October 2015 Archives

Lawmakers Get Real About Fake (Herbal) Viagra

news-icon.jpgLamar Odom's recent near-fatal brothel misadventure has brought herbal "male enhancement" products under new scrutiny, and now New York state Senators Jose Peralta and Jeff Klein are calling for a ban on these so-called herbal Viagra supplements commonly sold in convenience stores, in a crackdown similar to the one a few years ago that was directed at  "bath salts."

Because the pills are labelled as "dietary supplements" and their ingredient lists include herbs and seemingly innocuous substances like caffeine, consumers may get the impression that the products are safe. In reality, the pills are manufactured in countries where there is little or no oversight of production. FDA tests have discovered actual pharmaceuticals in these over-the-counter products, including dapoxetine (Priligy), sildenafil (Viagra), and tadalafil (Cialis).

"I am not here to ruin a party or to spoil anyone's fun," said Senator Peralta. "But, in a vast majority of cases, the true contents of these products are unknown to consumers, making their use very unsafe. The inherent danger is real."

Senator Klein says the ban is necessary because the FDA has not taken aggressive enough action. Of Odom's case, which involved a supplement called Reload, he said: "This incident raises serious concerns about FDA enforcement of prescription drugs. The FDA knew that Reload and other 'herbal supplements' like it on the market contain the active ingredient used in Viagra, but only issued public notifications instead of recalling the products from shelves."

The sales ban would have consequences for businesses such as mini-markets, corner stores, and gas stations that typically sell packets of the pills at the counter. Local law agencies would be responsible for enforcement, violators would be fined, and after three violations, would have their license to sell alcohol, cigarettes, and lottery tickets revoked. The legislation would apparently not affect online retailers.

Did 'Herbal' Viagra Cause Lamar Odom's Health Crisis?

news-icon.jpgNews came Tuesday night of former NBA champ Lamar Odom's hospitalization after being found unresponsive in a Nevada brothel. Odom is still unconscious and in critical condition, and his chances for recovery seem tenuous.

According to those at the scene, Odom had used some recreational drugs during his stay at the brothel, including cocaine, and had taken at least 10 capsules of an "herbal supplement" that was sold at the establishment.

The supplement in question is a male "performance enhancer" called Reload, and it's on the FDA's hit list as a dangerous product. The ingredients listed on Reload's packaging include various herbs, such as gotu kola and tribulus terrestris. However, laboratory analysis has shown that the capsules actually contain some sildenafil. Yes--it's not just herbal Viagra, it's real Viagra. Maybe that's why the packaging also included a warning not to use the supplement with nitrates (which are also contraindicated with Viagra use).

Tabloid sources have reported that Odom had "every drug imaginable" in his system, and the cocaine use is confirmed, so it's unclear whether the supplement had a significant impact on his condition. However, if it did contain sildenafil, it could have interacted with other drugs to cause or complicate a bad reaction.

The incident may bring attention to the hazards of unregulated "herbal Viagra" supplements, which could contain real pharmaceuticals.

35 Viagra Pills for Laughs, Not So Funny After All

Thumbnail image for news-icon.jpgHere's a cautionary tale that shows you one reason it's wise not to mix alcohol with Viagra: Daniel Medforth, a 26-year-old U.K. man who was joking around with some drinking buddies, found himself in a world of hurt after downing 35 Viagra pills within an hour.

Thirty-five? What on earth was he thinking? Planning an epic date-night? The story makes a little more sense when we learn that he and his pub-mates had been on a two-day bender.

"My mate brought them downstairs, I just said I'd take one for a laugh and one led to two to three, et cetera," Medforth told The Daily Beast

Bad idea. Very bad idea. This is a good time to remind everyone to a) only take prescription medications like Viagra under a doctor's supervision, b) follow the dosing and directions given by your doctor and pharmacist, and c) never take someone else's medication.

(On a side note, the U.K.'s national health program rations Viagra to one pill per week per patient, so it's curious to begin with that his buddy had 35 tablets on hand. Perhaps he had been hoarding them, or paid extra for them out of pocket. Wonder if Medforth's going to pay his pal back for the loss.)

Anyway, the poor bloke ended up with a "massive erection" that wouldn't go away, along with some other unpleasant symptoms: "I ended up feeling sick, dizzy and hallucinating -- everything I saw was green." (Having the visual field turn greenish is an uncommon but know side effect of Viagra. If you're a sildenafil user and you start seeing green, contact your doctor.)

He got a dressing down from his doctors, angered his wife (did he expect she'd be happy to have him come home hopped up on Viagra?), and spent two days in the hospital. Even when he got out, Medforth lived with the aftereffects for days: his painful and hypersensitive member sprang up at the slightest touch, giving him continual but "useless" erections.

All things considered, he was lucky. Excessive Viagra use resulted in the amputation of a Colombian man's penis (he'd had an erection for several days before seeking medical attention, and gangrene had set in), and a fatal heart attack for a Russian man who took a bottle of the drug while engaging in a 12-hour sex marathon.

As it was, Medforth just had to suffer through some pain and embarrassment, and a hard week. A very hard week.