Top

New York Lawmakers Target So-Called ‘Herbal Viagra’

New York Lawmakers Target So-Called ‘Herbal Viagra’

It is buyer beware when it comes to so-called herbal Viagra, or any product that claims to be a “natural” form of the drug prescribed by doctors for erectile dysfunction.

But, now two New York lawmakers are looking to address the numerous dangers that occur when these “herbal” impostors, created without any standards, quality regulation, or concerns for the person taking them, are opening sold to the public.

The bill, drafted by State Sen. Jose Peraltao, and co-sponsored by State Sen. Jeff Klein, would authorize local law enforcement to fine stores and bodegas that sell potentially dangerous herbal supplements that make claims that they enhance sexual performance or can be used to ease symptoms of erectile dysfunction.

Essentially the owners of the shops or bodegas that offer the so-called herbal remedies would be fined $2,000 on their first offense of selling the supplement, $5,000 for a second offense, and by the third offense, they would be stripped of their licenses to sell cigarettes, alcohol, and lottery tickets. The idea is to hit these stores where it hurts the most; their revenue.

Lawmakers in New York are targeting sellers of so-called herbal Viagra.

Why Address the Issue with a Law?

According to Politico New York, the bill was drafted in reaction to former NBA L.A Lakers basketball star Lamar Odom’s recent hospitalization, which reportedly resulted from ingesting a drug cocktail that included the self-proclaimed “herbal” Viagra.

While prescription drugs must undergo years of testing and their production is overseen by FDA standards of quality and safety, the world of herbal supplements is virtually unregulated and offers formulations of ingredients that may not only have no proven benefit to the patient, but could actually be dangerous to their health or threaten their life.

In October of this year, the FDA issued a consumer update, warning patients about the risk associated with “all natural” and “alternative” erectile dysfunction remedies. According to the FDA report, many of these products are nothing more than “drug cocktails”, formulated with several pharmaceutical substances (some prescription only) and these substances are not normally taken together. Basically, none of these products ever go through any clinical trials and their mixture could be lethal.

Senator Klein stated that he was motivated to co-sponsor this bill, which has been placed before lawmakers, after he learned that the FDA knew that these so-called herbal supplements (like Reload, Weekend Warrior, Hard Wang and several others) actually contain a prescription-only ingredient along with the unproven herbal ingredients.

Double the Danger

One sure-fire way you can double the dangers of taking unregulated herbal ingredients is by adding to this drug cocktail unknown quantities of an ingredient available by prescription only. This particular ingredient is also found in Viagra, but the difference is that high-quality standards and regulations, including the amount of the drug used, are all strictly monitored within the prescription product.

Since most of the herbal supplements are manufactured in foreign countries, experts say they typically lack any oversight in production. The buyer, therefore, cannot be certain exactly what ingredient, and how much of that ingredient, is in the product.

This can make for a dangerous concoction. And the FDA issued warnings are not new, they actually date back as far back as two years ago, but these so-called herbal Viagra pills, are still being sold everywhere, from websites to gas stations, to bodegas in the Bronx, and Nevada brothels.

Essentially, the websites that sell them come and go, vanishing as soon as complaints, or too many questions, start coming in. They shut down operation only to rename/re-brand themselves and set up shop again selling the same product, which they promote as a new “breakthrough supplement” that has just hit the market.

Legal Troubles for Some Manufacturer’s of Dietary Supplements, Male Enhancement Drugs and Erectile Dysfunction Drugs

Herbal Drug Manufacturers and Legal Action

Some of the manufacturers have faced prosecution. Kamraz Rezapour, 53, of N.C., was sentenced in April of 2015 to 108 months in prison for defrauding consumers of nearly $5 million by misbranding erectile dysfunction drugs as “all natural” herbal supplements.

According to the FDA report, court documents state that Rezapour owned and operated Nutrition for Health, Inc. and Mojo Risen, LLC., which sold dietary supplements, male enhancement drugs and erectile dysfunction drugs, including the “Mojo Risen,” and several others. Though he advertised Mojo Risen and the other erectile dysfunction pills as non-prescription, “all natural” herbal supplements, these products actually contained ingredients similar to the prescription, FDA regulated drugs found within Viagra.

Some “herbal” drug manufacturers have been prosecuted for defrauding consumers.

What is the Herbal Risk?

What is the danger to you? According to an article in the New York Post, herbal Viagra lowers your blood pressure substantially, so if the person adds another substance to it, like recreational drugs or even prescribed nitrate medication for heart problems they have, the risk of a fatal arrhythmia goes up exponentially.

The FDA has conducted several tests (and issued safety alerts) on questionable herbal supplements marketed and sold for the treatment of erectile dysfunction and sexual enhancement. Some of the findings are disturbing. One of the products, for example, containing 31 times the prescription dose of tadalafil, the active ingredient in the prescriptive drug Cialis. Added to this dangerous cocktail of drugs was an antidepressant, which was not approved by the FDA.

The FDA report states, “This undeclared ingredient may interact with nitrates found in some prescription drugs – such as nitroglycerin, used to treat chest pain, – and may lower blood pressure to dangerous levels. Men with diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol or heart disease often take nitrates. Tadalafil can also cause side effects such as headaches and reddening of the skin.”

Do Herbal Remedies Make False Claims?

According to the Mayo Clinic, without any government regulations and oversight, like prescription and over-the-counter drugs have, herbal supplements can be inconsistent, potentially dangerous, and will probably fall short of their medical claims.

For instance, in the case of some of the “herbal” products that are marketed as remedies for erectile dysfunction, experts from the Mayo Clinic argue that the benefits are highly overstated. Essentially, though they may contain substances that might improve your blood flow, because they may cause the walls of blood vessels to relax, none of these ingredients specifically helps the blood vessels within the penis, like say, Viagra and similar prescription drugs do.

Real Viagra and How to Discretely Buy It

FDA approved Viagra is a safe and effective way that many men treat erectile dysfunction. It fact it has proven to help about 80 percent of those patients prescribed. Trusted, it has been around since 1998 and it was the first medication of its kind.

Viagra’s safety and effectiveness are well documented and since it is a proven treatment for male impotence, most health insurance plans will cover Viagra, which makes the medication more affordable.

Not everyone can take Viagra, only your doctor and you can decide if it is right for you. The side effects are generally mild and in many cases may disappear completely with continued use of the drug. The most common side effects of the drug are back and muscle pain, dizziness, flushing, headache, indigestion, nausea, rash, and runny or stuffy nose.

Once you have a prescription, you should be on the lookout for illegitimate pharmacies that sell counterfeit Viagra for extremely low prices. Often, these pharmacies will call counterfeit pills “generic” Viagra. It’s important to know that the FDA has not yet approved a generic version of Viagra. Counterfeit pills are manufactured in foreign countries where the manufacturing and quality standards are lax. The pills can be ineffective or even dangerous to your health.

One of the things that draw people to buying a so-called “herbal Viagra”, is the fact that you can purchase it discretely, online, not at your pharmacy counter, but there are other, legitimate purchasing solutions.

Authentic FDA-approved Viagra, manufactured by Pfizer, can be purchased online. You can either order Viagra through your local pharmacy or you can order online through a reputable online store, where your privacy is protected and the order is delivered discretely. Other benefits include convenience; you don’t need to make a special trip to your pharmacy to pick it up.

What to Look for When Ordering Online?

You should always be careful to make certain that the company you are ordering from is reputable:

  • Does the website show a physical address?
  • Is there a contact phone number for questions and for physicians to use for communication?
  • They should ask for much more information than just the name of the medication and how you will choose to pay for it. Did they ask you to fill out a personal history?
  • They should ask you to fill out a medical history questionnaire
  • They should require that you provide information about your physician and treatment plans.
  • Your online pharmacy should always be available during business hours to answer your questions and communicate as needed.
  • As lawmakers tackle the task of trying to get the so-called herbal Viagra products off the shelves and the FDA goes after those who continue to manufacture dangerous combinations of drugs and herbs as “all natural” cures for male impotence, it makes sense to understand the dangers and risks of such products. Best advice is to seek the advice of your physician and a reputable online pharmacy, not a fly-by-night website.

    Barbara Leech is an author that writes about a variety of topics including health issues and treatment options.

    Don Amerman has spent more than three decades in the business of writing and editing. During the last 15 years, his focus has been on freelance writing. For almost all of his writing, He has done all of his own research, both online and off, including telephone and face-to-face interviews where possible. Don Amerman on Google+