Man jailed for 16 weeks for selling dangerous ‘herbal’ male impotence drug

On Friday a 58-year-old man was slapped with a 16 week prison sentence at Wood Green Crown Court for selling an unlicensed and dangerously potent erectile dysfunction (ED) drug which contained more than four times the recommended dose.

The man, from Barnet, became of interest to the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) as far back as 2009 following a caution for possession with intent to supply ‘Jia Yi Jian’.

Jia Yi Jian is a so-called ‘herbal’ male impotence medicine that was actually discovered to contain a shockingly high dose of tadalafil – the active ingredient in prescription-only ED drug Cialis – in addition to over four times the common dose of sibutramine, a slimming treatment that is no longer available.

Sibutramine was pulled from circulation back in 2010 due to widespread fears about health risks associated with the drug. However, mixed with tadalafil, there is the risk of serious health problems such as increased heart rate, heart attack and stroke.

Following that 2009 caution, the man was stopped in his tracks at Heathrow Airport in 2010 after inspectors discovered an incredible 51,600 tablets of ‘Herbal Viagra’ which he had been bringing into the country from China.

The herbal tablets were anything but that, and again comprised of prescription-only medicine tadalafil. A private prescription or a doctor’s consultation with a registered pharmacy such as Medical Specialists® Pharmacy is absolutely essential to ascertain a patient’s health and suitable for that, or indeed any medicine. Counterfeiters or those selling unlicensed drugs do not follow any procedure like this and are breaking the law and putting lives at risk.

Following an MHRA investigation, the man was given a 32-week suspended prison sentence. Then, after MHRA officers searched the man’s home, in excess of 5,000 tablets were unearthed disguised in boxes labelled as ‘Diet tea’. The haul included the aforementioned Jia Yi Jian.

The recent 16 week sentence was imposed after the man was found to have breached his suspended sentence, for which resulted in an 8 week sentence, which was added to another 8 weeks for selling unlicensed drugs without any authorisation. He was also hit in the pocket, incurring a £600 court change to be paid within 12 months.

MHRA Head of Enforcement, Alastair Jeffrey commented: “We will continue to seek out and prosecute the kind of criminals who recklessly endanger public health by selling illegal unlicensed medicines. Products such as these which are adulterated with high levels of pharmaceutical ingredients present a real health risk. It is vital that people who are suffering a medical condition don’t take shortcuts buying online, speak to your doctor to get the appropriate treatment.”

You’d be forgiven for thinking that the majority of counterfeit or unlicensed drugs would contain very little – if any – of the primary active ingredient, in this case tadalafil from ED medication cialis. However, this case goes to show that not only are some dubiously sold medicines containing the active ingredient, they may even contain potentially fatal high doses, and why patients should only go to a legitimate and fully-registered pharmacy.

If taken in excess, tadalafil overdose symptoms can include chest pain, irregular heartbeat, feeling lightheaded, fainting or nausea. In addition, patients suffering with male impotence should never combine Cialis with other ED medication like sildenafil (Viagra) or vardenafil (Levitra).

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