Herbal supplements aimed at improving men's sexual abilities
often contain the active ingredients in erectile dysfunction pills such as
Viagra, according to a new study.
Additionally, researchers found that some of these
over-the-counter herbal remedies contained more of the ingredient than is
allowed in prescription-only pharmaceuticals."It's pretty scary
stuff," said Neil Campbell, the lead author of the study and a researcher
at Pfizer, which sells Viagra. "These products are not herbal at all,
"The US Food and Drug Administration, which is in
charge of regulating herbal supplements, posted 11 warnings to consumers in
2013 alerting them of unlabeled pharmaceuticals being found in these products. Campbell
and his colleagues analyzed 91 samples from 58 products.
They sent undercover consumers into convenience stores and
gas stations in the Atlanta and Baltimore areas, and bought products such as
Rize 2 The Occasion, Stiff 4 Hours, and Man King. Although 57 of the products
claimed to be "all natural," 81%of them contained the tadalafil or
sildenafil (marketed as Cialis and Viagra, respectively) or similar ingredients
that are not approved by the FDA.
The products also had labeling problems, indicating poor
quality production, according to the authors. In some cases, expiration dates
or lot numbers were missing, manufacturers could not be identified, or samples
of the same product had different appearances.
"There's so little effort to do something the right way
to produce a legitimate product," Campbell told Reuters Health. "This
is an all time low."None of 10 supplement companies contacted by Reuters
Health responded to a request for comment, nor did the FDA.
associated with prescription for ED
Campbell said given the potential side effects and health
risks associated with prescription erectile dysfunction drugs, men are
"risking their lives" taking herbal sex enhancement
drugs."Almost one patient a day says they've tried Mojo or one of these
over-the-counter products," said Dr Gregory Lowe, an assistant professor
of urology at Ohio State University who was not part of this study. "One
of the big concerns is that we don't know what the patient's getting," he
Seven samples that Campbell's group analyzed contained only
unknown substances."Commonly, I hear patients say, 'it worked one time and
it didn't work other times.' And that fits in well with what they found
here" that quality control is lacking, he added.
It's unclear where the ingredients are coming from. Lowe
advises men who are interested in taking these pills to talk to their doctors
first. He says patients often turn to these products because they are cheap -
costing between $2.99 (R 27.02) and $17.99 (R 162.58), according to Campbell's
study, published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine.
But they are taking a health risk in doing so. Erectile
dysfunction medicines can be unsafe for men taking nitrates for chest pain, but
only 14 of the samples in the study included a warning against combining the
drugs."Unfortunately, to an unwitting patient they think they're taking an
herbal product," said Campbell. "It really poses a really scary
threat for patient health and safety."