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Why do supplement makers keep putting Viagra in their pills?

Published Mar 26th, 2021 10:23PM EDT
drug recall
Image: candy1812/Adobe

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Over-the-counter supplements are incredibly popular all over the world, and the United States is no exception. The regulations for what supplement makers can claim are relatively lax in the US, with most supplements making bold claims about how they can improve various aspects of your health, all of which are accompanied by a tiny asterisk that says the claim wasn’t evaluated by the FDA. In most cases, supplements packed with vitamins and various other minerals or blends are fine, but may not deliver on their promises. In the case of Imperial Extreme 2000MG, a male enhancement supplement produced by S&B Shopper LLC, the pills worked great, but for a very bad reason.

According to a new recall bulletin posted by the FDA, the supplement was found to contain sildenafil and tadalafil. If either of those names sounds familiar, it’s because they’re the official names for the active ingredients in Viagra and Cialis, respectively. The over-the-counter Imperial supplements were really just a mix of prescription-only erection drugs. Yikes.

Selling prescription drugs in an over-the-counter pill that doesn’t mention anything about those drugs on the packaging is obviously very illegal. The company is now recalling the supplement, and while the recall statement says it is doing so “voluntarily,” the company really had no choice but to comply with the FDA. The company also calls the supplement “tainted,” hinting that they didn’t know that what the pills actually contained, but it’s rather hard to believe that since the drugs that are in the pills address the exact same problem that the “drug-free” supplement was supposed to address without a prescription.

Even if the drugs found in the pills were legal to obtain without a prescription in the US, the recall would still be warranted due to the fact that the packaging doesn’t include a mention of them. Both of the drugs can produce symptoms and potentially severe reactions, including a rapid drop in blood pressure when taken with heart drugs. A man that has to avoid either of these prescription drugs due to a heart condition might opt for a drug-free alternative. If they stumbled upon this supplement, they’d end up taking the very drugs they were trying to avoid, and possibly dying as a result.

The pills were sold all over the United States and were even available on Amazon. The company claims it is “notifying its distributors and customers” and reaching out to anyone who bought the supplement on Amazon to let them know that it has been recalled. Those who purchased the product are urged to stop using them and destroy them. The company doesn’t mention anything about a refund, but since this company also snuck prescription drugs into a supplement, that’s hardly surprising.