Beware of hidden drugs in some supplements purchased online

SAN ANTONIO – If improving your wellness was one of your new year’s resolutions, maybe you’re thinking about taking dietary supplements.

Before you click the “buy” button, Consumer Reports has an important warning about potentially dangerous substances found in some supplements sold online.

Sildenafil, tadalafil, and fluoxetine are not only hard to pronounce, they’re also active ingredients in popular prescription drugs. Sildenafil is in Viagra, tadalafil is in Cialis, and fluoxetine is in Prozac.

You may be surprised to hear that the Food and Drug Administration also found those ingredients in some weight-loss and sexual-enhancement supplements sold on ebay and Amazon. Some of the tainted products sold on Amazon were even labeled Number-One-Best Seller or Amazon’s Choice, according to a press release from the FDA.

It’s against the law for a dietary supplement to contain any drugs, and the ingredients must be accurately listed on the label. But what the FDA found were essentially “hidden” drugs in many of these supplements.

Ebay responded to Consumer Reports by saying it was “reviewing the site” and would be removing the tainted products. Amazon said it was “reviewing the information from the FDA” and would take action accordingly.

Even if the companies take down the tainted supplements identified by the FDA, that might not solve the larger problem. This is just the latest in a string of studies that have found undeclared and potentially dangerous drugs in dietary supplements.

If you take a supplement, be sure to check the FDA’s database on tainted products to make sure isn’t listed. And even if the supplement you take isn’t on the list, you should still be cautious.

Talk with a doctor or another healthcare professional about whether the ingredients may interact with any medications or supplements you’re currently taking.

If you experience any reaction from a supplement, the FDA wants to hear from you. File what’s called an “adverse event report” online. And if it’s serious, call your doctor or 911.

About the Authors:

As a consumer reporter, Marilyn is all about helping people stay safe and save a buck. Since coming to KSAT in 1985, she’s covered everything from crime to politics, winning awards for her coverage of the Mexican Mafia, Oklahoma tornadoes, children’s transplants, an investigation into voting irregularities and even a hit-and-run Santa Claus.