32% of herbal aphrodisiacs in north-western Nigeria contain Viagra — Experts

Experts have expressed concern that 32 per cent of herbal aphrodisiacs marketed across four north-western states in Nigeria were adulterated with sildenafil, a conventional drug used primarily to treat erectile dysfunction.

They declared that this illegally added substance in herbal products meant for improving sexual performance could put the public health in a state of serious threat due to many risks, including shortness of breath, angina, myocardial infarction, persistent headache, hypotension and priapism.

Sildenafil, a conventional drug for the treatment of erectile dysfunction, is sold under trade names as Viagra.

The experts had screened 50 herbal medicines preparations for enhanced sexual performance randomly collected across Katsina, Kano, Kaduna, Zamfara states for sildenafil and identified 16 of them containing between 0.45 and 39.8 mg of sildenafil per dose. They were collected from streets, herbal centres, local markets and stores.

The 2020 study, in the Saudi Journal of Medical and Pharmaceutical Sciences, involved Aminu Lawal Tama at the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Kaduna State in collaboration with Aminu Musa, Musa A. Usman and Salisu Awwalu.

They stated that even at an extremely low dose of sildenafil, herbal-drug interaction or drug-drug interactions that are significant to health may also occur.

According to them, there is a need for an immediate intervention by relevant stakeholders to stop the consumption of these products which could have serious health risks to safeguard public health.

Previous studies in north-western Nigeria had reported nine samples out of 30 selected traditional medicines preparations for enhanced sexual performance, also adulterated with sildenafil; similarly, dietary supplements were also found to contain sildenafil.

Adulterations of herbal medicines with orthodox drugs have been reported worldwide. Detection of sildenafil, as an illegally added substance in herbal products meant for improving sexual performance was also reported in Indonesia, Sudan and Bangladesh.

Despite advances and availability of allopathic medicines, traditional and herbal medicines are still popular in the developing world. This is a sequel to the inherent notion that traditional and herbal medicines are safe coupled with the adverse effects and contraindication(s) of orthodox medicines.

—Sade Oguntola

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