Hidden Drugs in Dietary Supplements

Categories: Summer/Fall 2015

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According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), some dietary supplements marketed to treat erectile dysfunction or enhance sexual performance may contain prescription drugs or undisclosed ingredients that could be harmful.

These products are typically represented as being “all natural,” and many consumers believe they are completely safe. However, FDA laboratory analyses found undeclared amounts of the pharmaceutical ingredient sildenafil in some of these products. Sildenafil is the active ingredient in Viagra.

The FDA recently issued several consumer alerts for a number of dietary supplements with undisclosed sildenafil. The list of supplements can be found on the FDA’s Medication Health Fraud website at www.fda.gov/Drugs/ResourcesForYou/ Consumers/BuyingUsingMedicineSafely/MedicationHealthFraud.

Undeclared sildenafil can pose a threat to consumers because it can interact with nitrates found in some prescription drugs (such as nitroglycerin) and may lower blood pressure to dangerous kevels. Men with diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol or heart disease often taken nitrates.

Patients should contact their physician if they have experienced any problems that could be related to use of these supplements. The FDA encourages patients and doctors to report adverse effects or side effects related to use of these products to the FDA’s MedWatch Safety Information and Adverse Event Reporting Program.

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