In what should not be shocking news, many of the male enhancement drug products you can find for sale online or at gas stations and convenience stores are unsafe, according to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
A public announcement issued yesterday explains that more than 25 products sold under variations of the name “Rhino” contain unlisted active drug ingredients that can cause extremely dangerous side effects if taken in excess or alongside other medications. These unapproved treatments, which are typically sold in single-pill packages, made their way onto shelves legally, while dodging regulation, because they are marketed as dietary supplements – a category of health product that is infamously poorly monitored by the FDA.
“Over the past few years, the FDA has been combatting the retail sale of male enhancement drug products that are frequently misrepresented as dietary supplements and that contain hidden and potentially harmful active drug ingredients. Distributing unapproved drugs, disguised as supplements, places the U.S. public health at risk,” Donald D. Ashley, director of the Office of Compliance in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, said in the agency’s statement. “We remain vigilant in our efforts to protect the American public from the sale of these potentially dangerous products.”
FDA laboratory analyses have proven that the Krazzy Rhino, Gold Rhino, Boss Rhino, Black Rhino, Platinum Rhino products all contain sildenafil or tadalafil – the generic names for approved drug compounds sold under the brand name Viagra or Cialis, respectively – or other structurally similar chemicals that act as phosphodiesterase type-5 (PDE-5) inhibitors. Agents in this class of medication are prescribed for erectile dysfunction and cardiac hypertension and work by relaxing the muscles inside blood vessels.
According to their press release, the FDA has received numerous reports of people requiring hospitalization and, in some cases, surgery, after experiencing extreme drops in blood pressure after taking Rhino products. The affected individuals’ reported symptoms were chest pain, severe headaches, and/or prolonged erections.
Even when taken properly, common side effects of PDE-5 inhibitors include stomach pain and nausea, dizziness, diarrhea, back pain, memory problems, ringing in the ears, nasal congestion, and an inability to differentiate blue and green (a temporary condition, called cyanopsia, caused by the drug’s interference with an enzyme involved in the activation of blue-light sensitive in rod cells in the retina).
Sildenafil and its ilk can also cause problems when consumed concomitantly with many antidepressants, antibiotics, antifungals, and medications for blood pressure-related conditions, hepatitis C, HIV/AIDS, and a cancer drug called imatinib.
Despite attempts to take the PDE-5 inhibitor-laden Rhino products out of circulation, the agency notes that they are still being shipped across the US. Currently, the Department of Justice is prosecuting a South Korean individual who had been allegedly smuggling drug materials into the country, then formulating and distributing the pills, per intel gathered by the FDA’s Office of Criminal Investigations.