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What’s Really in Your Dietary Supplement?

These drugs are classified as phosphodiesterase type 5 (PDE5) inhibitors. They work by relaxing smooth muscle tissue in the penis, allowing more blood to flow in and form an erection. However, they are not safe for all men. For example, men who take nitrates for conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol should not take PDE5 inhibitors because the interaction can cause a dangerous drop in blood pressure.

In the U.S., PDE5 inhibitors are available only by prescription. Men who buy sexual enhancement products are often not aware that the supplements contain ingredients that could be harmful. And some supplements include more than one hidden ingredient.

About 4% of the sexual enhancement products contained dapoxetine, an antidepressant that is not FDA-approved. One included sibutramine, a substance that was removed from the market in 2010 because of cardiovascular risks.

The researchers also reported hidden ingredients in other types of supplements, including weight loss and muscle-building products.


JAMA Network Open

Tucker, Jenna, MPH

“Unapproved Pharmaceutical Ingredients Included in Dietary Supplements Associated With US Food and Drug Administration Warnings”

(Full-text. October 12, 2018)

U.S. Food and Drug Administration

“FDA 101: Dietary Supplements”

(Updated: July 15, 2015)

“Tainted Products Marketed as Dietary Supplements_CDER”

(Page last updated: October 16, 2018)

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