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AP IMPACT: Federal crackdown on foreign HGH has led to record sales of the drug by Big Pharma

  • Dr. Mark Molitch of Northwestern University, who helped write medical standards meant to limit HGH treatment to legitimate patients, holds an injector pen that contains approximately a weeks worth of doses for a patient in need of the drug at his clinic Thursday, Dec. 20, 2012, in Chicago. An Associated Press investigation shows that a federal crackdown on illicit foreign supplies of human growth hormone has failed to stop rampant misuse, and instead has driven record sales of the drug by some of the world's biggest pharmaceutical companies. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)

    Dr. Mark Molitch of Northwestern University, who helped write medical standards meant to limit HGH treatment to legitimate patients, holds an injector pen that contains approximately a weeks worth of doses for a patient in need of the drug at his clinic Thursday, Dec. 20, 2012, in Chicago. An Associated Press investigation shows that a federal crackdown on illicit foreign supplies of human growth hormone has failed to stop rampant misuse, and instead has driven record sales of the drug by some of the world's biggest pharmaceutical companies. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)  (The Associated Press)

  • Dr. Mark Molitch of Northwestern University, who helped write medical standards meant to limit HGH treatment to legitimate patients, holds an injector pen that contains approximately a weeks worth of doses for a patient in need of the drug at his clinic Thursday, Dec. 20, 2012, in Chicago. An Associated Press investigation shows that a federal crackdown on illicit foreign supplies of human growth hormone has failed to stop rampant misuse, and instead has driven record sales of the drug by some of the world's biggest pharmaceutical companies. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)

    Dr. Mark Molitch of Northwestern University, who helped write medical standards meant to limit HGH treatment to legitimate patients, holds an injector pen that contains approximately a weeks worth of doses for a patient in need of the drug at his clinic Thursday, Dec. 20, 2012, in Chicago. An Associated Press investigation shows that a federal crackdown on illicit foreign supplies of human growth hormone has failed to stop rampant misuse, and instead has driven record sales of the drug by some of the world's biggest pharmaceutical companies. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)  (The Associated Press)

  • This photo shows an injector pen that contains approximately a weeks worth of HGH doses for a patient in need of the drug at the clinic of Dr. Mark Molitch of Northwestern University, who helped write medical standards meant to limit HGH treatment to patients in need of the drug Thursday, Dec. 20, 2012, in Chicago. An Associated Press investigation shows that a federal crackdown on illicit foreign supplies of human growth hormone has failed to stop rampant misuse, and instead has driven record sales of the drug by some of the world's biggest pharmaceutical companies. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)

    This photo shows an injector pen that contains approximately a weeks worth of HGH doses for a patient in need of the drug at the clinic of Dr. Mark Molitch of Northwestern University, who helped write medical standards meant to limit HGH treatment to patients in need of the drug Thursday, Dec. 20, 2012, in Chicago. An Associated Press investigation shows that a federal crackdown on illicit foreign supplies of human growth hormone has failed to stop rampant misuse, and instead has driven record sales of the drug by some of the world's biggest pharmaceutical companies. (AP Photo/M. Spencer Green)  (The Associated Press)

An Associated Press investigation shows that a federal crackdown on illicit foreign supplies of human growth hormone has failed to stop rampant misuse, and instead has driven record sales of the drug by some of the world's biggest pharmaceutical companies.

The crackdown, which began in 2006, reduced the illegal flow of unregulated supplies from China, India and Mexico. But since then, Big Pharma has been satisfying the steady desires of U.S. users and abusers, including many who take the drug in the false hope of delaying aging.

An AP analysis of pharmaceutical company data shows that from 2005 to 2011, inflation-adjusted sales of HGH were up 69 percent. During the same period, sales of the average prescription drug rose 12 percent.

Under U.S. law, HGH can only be dispensed for very rare conditions.