Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) inspectors raided outlets stocking the form of herbal Viagra, or Jia Yi Jian, which lab tests have shown was contaminated with illegal levels of sibutramine and tadalafil.
Jia Yi Jian was marketed as being “100% herbal”, yeteach tablet contained 68.1mg of sibutramine and 50.06mg of tadalafil when respective levels of only 15mg and 20mg were permitted.
Sibutramine, marketed as Reductil in Europe and Meridia in the US and Canada, is an appetite suppressant. Tadalafil, commonly known as Cialis, also treats erectile dysfunction.
MHRA group manager for herbal medicines, Richard Woodfield, advised people to seek medical advice before taking supplements such as Jia Yi Jian.
Typical side effects could include heart and blood pressure problems as well as contraindications with drugs that may be taken for blood pressure, heart disease as well as antidepressants.
“This product, adulterated with large and uncontrolled amounts of pharmaceutical substances, presents a clear risk to consumers,” he said.
With turmeric supplements being recalled last week after another contamination scare that has been linked to deaths in Scandinavia, the Latin adage, caveat emptor, or buyer beware, comes to mind.
“There is continuing evidence that some so-called ‘herbal’ products on the UK and international markets are nothing of the kind,” Woodfield said.
“Often, such marketing claims about the supposed natural ingredients in these unlicensed products are simply an attempt to divert the consumer’s attention away from very low manufacturing and ethical standards.”
Woodfield pointed out that the problem of contamination is not limited to the TCM sector.
The MHRA said an investigation was ongoing.