Senator wants federal protection on herbal supplements

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — Senator Richard Blumenthal wants federal protection on over-the-counter supplements warning consumers of the dangers and a list of exactly what they contain. He said the FDA should be protecting the people taking these drugs, against possible side effects.

“These supplements may have all kinds of mystery ingredients, whether it’s Viagra or energy ingredients, that can cause side effects,” said Blumenthal.

Doctors say men that use herbal Viagra or any over-the-counter sexual performance enhancement supplements may be putting themselves at risk.

“They are not marketed as medications, so the burden of proof that these are effective or what they do, is a different standard than pharmaceuticals,” said Dr. Frank Mongillo.

Herbal Viagra and other over-the-counter supplements are often are marketed as a cheaper alternative to Viagra but are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration.

“Sulfoaildenafil is the pharmaceutical, so it is a synthetic medication that is the main ingredient in Viagra you can’t find that without a prescription, but having said that you can find similar molecules in nature that can be in these herbal supplements,” said Mongillo.

The products can also cause dangerously low blood pressure, especially if somebody is taking medication for heart problems. Side effects from supplements send thousand of people to the emergency room.

“It’s the Wild West. Like snake oil that used to be sold as a common cure for whatever ails you and supplements may be equally mysterious, unknown and unacknowledged in the harm they can cause,” said Blumenthal.

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