The Idaho Pharmacy Board has endorsed proposed legislation that would make anabolic steroids a "Schedule 4" controlled drug and make illegal possession or sale a felony.

Mick Markuson, the board's executive director, said a bill is being drafted and should be introduced during the current session of the Idaho Legislature.Anabolic steroids sometimes are legitimately prescribed out of medical necessity to increase muscle mass, strength or weight, or as a treatment for leukemia or osteoporosis. But Markuson said they have been used increasingly by teenagers in recent years to enhance athletic performance and for cosmetic purposes.

More than 80 percent of the anabolic steroids used in Idaho are purchased on the black market, and Markuson conceded legislation requiring pharmacists to maintain detailed inventories of their supplies would do nothing to slow that traffic.

Pharmacies inventory records are inspected by the state annually.

"All this does is put a handle on what's used legally in the state," Markuson said. "But by putting them on the schedule, we're saying there's some possible abuse of them."

The five-member Pharmacy Board, meeting Wednesday in Pocatello, backed a proposal that would make it illegal for doctors or pharmacists to prescribe, order, distribute, supply or sell anabolic steroids except in the case of medical necessity.

Drugs with the potential for abuse are ranked by the state as "Schedule 1" through "Schedule 5," according to their level of medical application. For example, such drugs as heroin and LSD are Schedule 1. Cocaine and morphine are Schedule 2.

Markuson stressed that the proposed legislation would not apply to "cortico" steroids, which are used to control inflammation or swelling but have no muscle-enhancement application.

He said it was "tough to get a handle" on the amount of anabolic steroids used illegitimately in Idaho. "But I think one of the main things we need to get across is that there are some health hazards."