Illegal aphrodisiacs and diet pills uncovered: Taiwan FDA

TAIPEI, Taiwan - Those who take aphrodisiacs or diet pills should be extremely careful as according to the Food and Drug Administration yesterday morning, over 25 per cent of Chinese medicines inspected were found to illegally contain chemical compounds.

FDA officials said yesterday that out of 1,400 products examined last year, 359 were found containing illegal ingredients from Western medicine; and for the first quarter this year, another 18 samples out of 108 collected failed to meet regulations, too.

According to the FDA's analysis, around 60 per cent of the products found containing illegal compounds were aphrodisiacs, while around 20 per cent were diet pills. Moreover, 40 per cent of the illegal products contain several types of chemicals banned in medicine, officials added.

Illegal compounds most commonly found in aphrodisiacs are sildenafil, chloramphenicol and acetaminophen, officials said. Sildenafil may cause drowsiness, dizziness, fainting, or blurred vision. Moreover, sudden issues with hearing and loss of hearing have been reported in some patients who have taken sildenafil, officials said.

Chloramphenicol has caused severe and sometimes fatal blood problems, including anaemia, low blood platelets, and low white blood cell counts; acetaminophen is often used as pain reliever, however an overdose may cause damage to the liver, or death in extreme cases, according to the FDA.

Compounds Associated with Cancer Found in Diet Pill

Nature-Power, a popular brand for diet pills, wwas found to contain phenolphthalein in two of its products: Concentrated HCA capsules and Protein OB Capsules, officials said.

Phenolphthalein is often used as an indicator in acid-base titrations - it has also been used for more than a century as a laxative agent, but has been banned by the FDA in medicines because of concerns over its potential danger in causing carcinogenicity, skin rash and kidney irritation.

According to FDA officials, products of Nature-Power have been found to contain illegal compounds more than 8 times, which include antidepressant drugs, local anaesthesia, phenolphthalein, and ipratropium bromide. Long-term consumption of ipratropium bromide may lead to palpitations, high blood pressure, and even strokes.

Under the Pharmaceutical Affairs Act, manufacturers who violate the law may be given a maximum sentence of 10 years imprisonment as well as a NT$10 million (S$437,300) fine.