‘All sexual performance enhancers illegal’
Paper Edition | Page: 2
The National Food and Drug Control Agency (BPOM) warned that all sexual performance-enhancing drugs on the market were marketed without the agency’s permission and could contain hazardous substances.
Hary Wahyu T, BPOM’s director of traditional medicine, cosmetics and supplementary products division, said on Thursday that his agency had never issued any permits for sexual-performance enhancers as they were not considered drugs.
“It’s not clear what their advantages are. Besides, without consulting a doctor, how do you get an accurate diagnosis of what is happening to your body? It’s dangerous because abuse of drug can pose serious health risks and even cause death,” Hary said.
The BPOM held a press briefing on Thursday to respond to a report about the widespread abuse of substances used to treat erectile dysfunction, including sildenafil citrate, tadalafil and vardenafil.
Sildenafil citrate is currently marketed in the form of pills used to cure erectile dysfunction under the brand name Viagra. It is the first oral treatment for erectile dysfunction. Tadalafil, a PDE5 inhibitor, is another drug substance prescribed for the treatment of impotence under the brand name Cialis.
Although gaining a reputation as effective anti-impotence drugs, sildenafil citrate, tadalafil and other erectile dysfunction medications can cause health risks and even death if used improperly.
“We can’t take them without a doctor’s prescription,” Hary said.
The BPOM, he said, had issued licenses for several drugs used to treat erectile dysfunction. “The [erectile dysfunction] drugs are totally different from so-called ‘sexual performance enhancers’. Like other strong medicines, we need to first consult with physicians before taking these drugs,” he said.
In spite of warnings and frequent raids by BPOM officials, kiosks selling the sexual performance-
enhancing pills can easily be found in cities around the country.
One of the hubs for distribution of the drugs is the crowded Tanah Abang commercial district of Jakarta, which is also known as one of the city’s red-light districts.
Ariel, a street vendor selling drugs from his cart in Tanah Abang, has spent about 30 years selling sexual performance enhancers with little scrutiny from government officials.
He said that in spite of the pills’ steep prices, consumers came shortly after he opened his shop at 9 a.m. and remained steady until he closed at around midnight. Ariel said he sold a high-quality sexual performance-enhancing pill, known as Cialis, for Rp 100,000 for each bottle of 10 1,800 mg pills.
“This is my best-selling merchandise. It works only after 15 minutes and its effect lasts for 168 hours overall,” he said, adding that his suppliers claimed that the product came from China.
Ariel also showed off his British Cialis Tadalafil as another example. It was available for Rp 75,000 per bottle of 10 pills. Effect of each pill lasts for 24 hours.
For those on a shoestring budget, Ariel offers cheaper products, such as the Chinese-made “blue pill”, which is available for Rp 25,000.
The 57-year-old native of Padang, West Sumatra, claimed that his pills were safe.
“If they causes harmful effects, why do people keep on coming back for the pills?” asked Ariel.
When The Jakarta Post checked the product, it had no registration number provided by the BPOM.
Research has linked drugs to greater risk of diseases, such as heart problems. Sildenafil citrate, for example, starts working between 30 minutes and one hour after it is first consumed, staying in the body for up to 10 hours. Tadalafil may even have effects for 36 hours. Improper use of sildenafil citrate and tadalafil can cause uncontrolled high blood pressure.
“You can imagine what it may do to a person who already has high blood pressure. Patients with high blood pressure may ultimately cause damage to blood vessels in their heart and even permanent impotence by consuming sexual performance enhancers,” said Hary.