The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) yesterday said 144 items, or 71 percent, of 202 products illegally sold as medicines that were sent to the administration for examination were found to contain unlicensed pharmaceutical ingredients.
Among the 202 items examined last year, 82 claimed to be aphrodisiacs, 32 were said to be nitrates, while 88 claimed to have other therapeutic effects such as weight loss, anti-inflammatory or sleep-inducing properties.
FDA Division of Research and Analysis section chief Lin Mei-chih (林美智) said they found 61 of the 82 illegal aphrodisiacs contained unlicensed pharmaceutical ingredients, while 48 contained sildenafil, commonly known as Viagra.
Adverse effects of sildenafil include hypotension, headaches, vomiting, dizziness or blurred vision, she said, adding that if taken with other drugs, such as nitroglycerin or amyl nitrites, it can pose health risks to people with cardiovascular disease.
Lin said producing or importing medicines that contain sildenafil or other pharmaceutical ingredients such as acetaminophen, chloramphenicol, dapoxetine or sulpyrine, without a license and registration is an offense according to the Pharmaceutical Affairs Act (藥事法), adding that the number of products seized last year illegally marketed as aphrodisiacs was the highest in four years.
Research and Analysis division deputy chief Wang Der-yuan (王德原) said nitrates, commonly called poppers, are often put into bottles and inhaled for recreational purposes.
All of the 32 nitrate items were found to contain isoamyl nitrite, isobutyl nitrite, isopropyl nitrite and other nitrates, Wang said.
He said the FDA does not approve any licenses for drug products containing nitrates, so people who illegally produce or import such products may face a punishment of up to 10 years in jail or a fine up to NT$100 million (US$3.19 million).
The FDA urged people not to purchase or take drugs from illegal sources to prevent harm to their health.