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New Hope 360 Blog

Safe Sex... or Adulterated Supplements?


FDA says herbs are not the only ingredients showing up in some libido or sexual enhancement supplements on store shelves and websites.

PDE5 inhibitors (phosphodiesterase type 5 inhibitors, such as Sildenafil [Viagra]) and untested PDE5 analogs, are sometimes added to herbal formulas without listing them on the product label.

These hidden ingredients can be dangerous to anyone -- but especially for those taking nitrates found in some prescription drugs (such as nitroglycerin). The combination may lower blood pressure to dangerous levels.

Retailers can look for clues that suggest a libido supplement may be spiked with a drug ingredient, according to Gary Coody, FDA’s National Health Fraud coordinator:

1. Fast-acting claims: Be very suspicious of any libido herbal or dietary supplement that claims it “Works in 30 minutes” or "lasts for 36 to 72 hours."

2. Warnings that resemble prescription ED drugs: For example if a product warns about concurrent use with nitrates or to seek medical attention if an erection persists longer than 4 hours.

3. Erectile-dysfunction claims: Dietary supplements that claim to treat the disease Erectile Dysfunction are considered unapproved drugs.

Retailers should also be wary of unsolicited promotions via fax or email. If a seller offers a libido product that sounds more like a drug, then there’s a chance it contains an undeclared prescription drug.FDA enforcement against all adulterated supplements (not just libido formulas) is increasing.

In 2010 the agency and customs agents began using an automated sorting system to look at millions of foreign shipments to help identify food and drugs that are most likely to be contaminated.

There’s also a page on FDA’s website ( dedicated to the issue: Search “Dietary Supplements that Contain Undeclared Prescription Ingredients or Other Chemicals.”

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