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Man jailed for peddling hyper-strength ‘herbal’ erection tablets

Viagra tablets purported to be herbal but contained dangerously high levels of compounds allowed only in prescription drugs. Photo Credit: Michael Coghlan
Viagra tablets purported to be herbal but contained dangerously high levels of compounds allowed only in prescription drugs. Photo Credit: Michael Coghlan

A man has been sentenced to 16 weeks in a UK prison for selling sham ‘Herbal Viagra’ tablets that contained dangerous levels of tadalafil and sibutramine, compounds that are banned in supplements.

Xiao Ping Yan, 58, was sentenced at Wood Green Crown Court, after attempting to sell unlicensed erection dysfunction medicine.

The tablets were found to contain over four times the maximum dose of tadalafil, the active ingredient in the prescription only medicine Cialis, and more than four times the dose of withdrawn slimming medicine sibutramine.

‘Serious health risk’

“Both these drugs in combination posed a serious health risk through a dangerously increased heart rate, risk of heart attack and stroke, with sibutramine withdrawn from legitimate pharmaceutical products in 2010 due to evidence regarding its health risks,” said the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency  MHRA in a release.

Yan was arrested after MHRA officers inspected his home and found 5,000 tablets hidden in boxes for “Diet tea”.

He had previously been officially cautioned for possession and intent to supply a fake herbal product in 2009 and was also arrested at Heathrow Airport in 2010, where he was found with 51,600 ‘Herbal Viagra’ tablets, for which he was sentenced to a 32 week suspended prison sentence.

Prison term

For the latest offence, Yan was sentenced to eight weeks in prison for breaching his suspended sentence and a further eight weeks for placing an unlicensed medicine on the market without authorisation.

The MHRA’s Head of Enforcement Alastair Jeffrey said: “Products such as these which are adulterated with high levels of pharmaceutical ingredients present a real health risk. It is vital that people who are suffering a medical condition don’t take shortcuts buying online, speak to your doctor to get the appropriate treatment. “

In 2012, the UK, German and Danish food safety agencies issued public warnings about ‘natural’ slimming and erectile dysfunction products spiked with unauthorised drug compounds.

Sibutramine and tadalafil are permitted in sexual performance drugs like Viagra or weight loss products but are not authorised for use in food supplements. The compounds have been linked to heart attacks and even death.

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