North Carolina Man Pleads Guilty to Selling Bogus ED Drugs

When apprehended, people selling fake Viagra can face serious prison time.
When apprehended, people selling fake Viagra can face serious prison time.
When a drug is as popular as Viagra, unscrupulous people try to make money off counterfeit knock-offs.

Viagra is believed to be the most counterfeited drug ever, and US Customs and Border Protection officials know that whenever they intercept a large shipment of counterfeit drugs, they can expect some of it to be fake Viagra. You might think it would be easy to look at a “little blue pill” and be able to tell it was bogus, but Viagra counterfeiters make their products look remarkably like the real thing. In fact, even Pfizer scientists can’t accurately predict if a pill is fake until they break it down and determine its chemical composition.

But while some counterfeiters make drugs that look just like Viagra, others make “herbal” remedies they claim are “all natural,” yet actually contain sildenafil, the active ingredient in Viagra. A North Carolina man recently pleaded guilty in federal court of doing just that.

North Carolina Man’s Twist on the Counterfeit Drug Scam

Kamran Rezapour of Ashe County, North Carolina, was accused of defrauding consumers of almost $5 million by selling “all natural supplements” containing sildenafil. Rezapour pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud and two counts of drug misbranding, and could be sentenced to more than 20 years in prison and fined $250,000 for each of the four charges he faced. He has already agreed to forfeit approximately $1.5 million in funds, gold, and silver coins as part of his plea agreement.

The problem with Rezapour’s “supplements” was that they actually contained unlisted “ingredients similar to prescription drugs such as Viagra,” including sildenafil and a chemical analog to sildenafil called noracetildenafil. Rezapour smuggled the noracetildenafil into the US from China by falsely labeling it as “paint products,” “care products,” and “gifts.” He distributed his products nationwide.

Drugs Claiming to Be “All Natural” ED Treatments

Since 2001, sales of “natural Viagra,” “herbal Viagra,” and other supplements claiming to improve sexual functioning have become a $400 billion per year industry. Many of these so-called supplements work because they actually contain unregulated versions of substances like sildenafil. People tend to think “herbal” or “natural” products are inherently safe, and may take them when they have health problems that make ED drugs like Viagra contraindicated. If a man taking nitrates or other drugs that prevent him from taking Viagra were to take one of these supplements, he could experience a life-threatening drop in blood pressure.

The labels “herbal” and “all natural” do not guarantee safety.
The labels “herbal” and “all natural” do not guarantee safety.
James Neal-Kababick of Flora Research Laboratories in Oregon told NBC news that approximately 90% of the samples he has analyzed of “natural” or “herbal” ED supplements contain forms of patented pharmaceuticals, and some contain dosages much higher than what’s found in the genuine prescription drugs. The AP has researched emergency room visit data and found visits attributed to these supplements in at least four states, and public health officials believe adverse events are grossly underreported due to patients not being forthright about what they consumed, and doctors rarely asking about the supplements people take.

Drugs Claiming to Be Viagra When They’re Not

People selling counterfeit Viagra or other ED drugs are frequently caught and prosecuted, but the market is so huge it’s difficult for law enforcement to keep up. Here are just a few cases that have already made news this year:

Counterfeit drugs not only often lack the active ingredient found in the real version, but they may contain ingredients that are harmful, including pesticides, paint, and brick dust.

If you experience ED, it’s understandable that you might be reluctant to bring up the subject with a physician, but doctors aren’t fazed by patients who need to discuss erectile health. And if you’re uncomfortable taking a prescription to a local drugstore, there are reputable providers online who require a doctor’s prescription and are totally transparent about the sources for their products.

eDrugstore.com sells only genuine Viagra made by Pfizer, and does so at competitive prices using US-licensed pharmacists. Buying “cheap Viagra,” “herbal Viagra,” and other too-good-to-be-true sounding products from shady websites or Craigslist is a huge health risk. eDrugstore.com, however, has served customers for 15 years, will answer your questions, and has the utmost commitment to online purchasing safety and customer privacy.

Photo Credits: nixxphotography / freedigitalphotos.net, Praisaeng / freedigitalphotos.net

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