Some Supplements Contain Rx Drugs and Unapproved Ingredients

Consumers may want to think twice about buying nutritional supplements for weight loss or increased sex drive after prescription drugs, such as Prozac and Viagra, were found in some of them.

The FDA made the discoveryafter intercepting and examining packages from abroad containing the supplements.

Many of the sexual enhancement supplements identified contain sildenafil, the active ingredient in Viagra, even though it is only supposed to be given via prescription. Labeling on the products did not disclose sildenafil as an ingredient either. This is a concern as sildenafil can interact with nitrates, a class of drugs taken by people with heart disease and high blood pressure. Taking sildenafil and a nitrate together can decrease blood pressure dramatically.

Sibutramine was an ingredient found in some of the products marketed for weight loss. However, sibutramine was pulled from US store shelves in 2010 over concerns that it dramatically raises blood pressure, which could impact patients with a history of coronary artery disease, congestive heart failure, arrhythmia or stroke.

Another weight loss supplement, Zi Xiu Tang Beauty Face & Figure Capsule, made in China, was found to contain fluoxetine, the active ingredient in the antidepressant Prozac. The same product also contained phenolphthalein, a chemical compound that has been used as a laxative but is banned by the FDA over concerns it is carcinogenic.

Jonathan Block

Jonathan Block is a freelance writer and former MedShadow content editor. He has been an editor and writer for multiple pharmaceutical, health and medical publications, including BioCentury, The Pink Sheet, Modern Healthcare, Health Plan Week and Psychiatry Advisor. He holds a BA from Tufts University and is earning an MPH with a focus on health policy from the CUNY Graduate School of Public Health & Health Policy.

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