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Image of a Bulk bag of counterfeit Viagra
Bulk bag of counterfeit Viagra; image courtesy of James R. Tourtellotte, U.S. Customs and Border Protection via Wikimedia Commons, https://commons.wikimedia.org

According to a lawsuit recently filed in San Diego, “illegal and dangerous erection-inducing products containing Viagra and Cialis are being deceptively sold across” in convenience stores, liquor, and smoke shops throughout the city. Many of the products are labeled with “sexually suggestive names, including Black Stallion 35000, Rhino 69, and New Stiff Nights Platinum 10K” and are marketed as dietary or natural supplements.

However, according to the suit, the effectiveness of the supplements “stems from the erectile dysfunction drugs, which are not named as ingredients.” Because the ingredients aren’t named, the suit argues that it’s difficult for consumers to tell which “products are legitimate and which are dangerous.”

The suit itself was filed earlier this week on Tuesday in San Diego Superior Court on behalf of Outlaw Laboratory against 51 stores in San Diego County. The allegations include false advertising and unfair competition. For those who don’t know, Outlaw Laboratory specializes in selling a wide variety of supplements, including male enhancement products. According to the company, it’s business has taken a hit over the illegal competition and noted that “customers could be harmed by unwittingly taking erectile dysfunction drugs that are legally provided only by prescription.”

However, some of the convenience store owners have been pushing back against Outlaw Laboratory since March when Outlaw really began voicing its complaints. In response to the allegations, the store owners said “they had no way of knowing the products contained illegal hidden ingredients.” One store owner, Faud Ateyeh, said, “To me, this is a new modern way of hold up, without a gun.”

Image of Normal Heights, a neighborhood of San Diego
Normal Heights, a neighborhood of San Diego; image courtesy of User:Monotone via Wikimedia Commons, https://commons.wikimedia.org

However, Los Angeles law firm Tauler Smith is siding with Outlaw Laboratory and argued that “store owners are responsible for ensuring the products they sell are legal and safe.” In a statement shortly after the lawsuit announcement, the law firm said:

“Using Viagra without a doctor’s supervision can result in serious penile injuries (blood clots and amputation, for instance), heart attacks, stroke and vision problems.”

Robert Tauler, a partner with Tauler Smith, chimed in saying that the products in question “amount to a shadow pharmacy, a phrase that’s often used to describe “the partially underground market that has grown in the last several years.” He added that the more his firm digs into the problem, the more he and his co-workers are recognizing the scope of what’s going on.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has also been made aware of the issue and stated that it has “extensively warned about such supplements” and has a list of examples of ‘Tainted Sexual Enhancement Products’ on its website. The list also includes ‘red flag’ products that may or may not be tainted, including:

  • Product offers immediate results or works in a matter of minutes
  • Product compares itself to drugs
  • Directions for use that mimic the approved drug
  • Claims that sound too good to be true

While the FDA and other agencies are attempting to crack down on the seemingly endless stream of dietary supplements entering the market, the FDA said monitoring the supplements is “especially difficult because it generally isn’t given advance notice when supplements are introduced.” Because of this, the agency claims it’s impossible to “prevent products in violation of law from reaching the market.

Sources:

Lawsuit claims San Diego stores sell tainted love pills

Beware of Fraudulent Dietary Supplements

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