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Better-Sex Supplements Slammed

Deceptive Advertising Complaint Issued Against Erection Products
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WebMD Health News

Sept. 23, 2004 -- Improve penis length! Girth! Erection! Sex drive! The science behind these claims comes up short, according to a new report.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) has set its researchers onto those better-erection pills. These are the supplements that are marketed in "pharmaspeak" with names such as Enzyte and Elexia, and Pro-Erex, Vahard, and VasoRect -- as well as Big Daddy, Libido-Max, Suregasm.

Today, CSPI filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) about one product -- Enzyte -- for deceptive advertising. Enzyte's parent company, Berkeley Nutritionals, is also under scrutiny by the Ohio State Attorney General's office. In addition, the company is also the target of two class-action lawsuits looking for customer refunds.

"It's really extraordinary that this product is advertised on television, in newspapers, making these claims that just have no basis," says David Schardt, a CSPI senior nutritionist, in a news release. "It's really too bad that the FTC, the agency that regulates advertising, has been so slow in protecting consumers."

"Enzyte is more successful subtracting from the male wallet than it is adding to the male organ," Schardt says in a news release. "It's basically just an expensive placebo."

"People are so frustrated or desperate, and they don't want to spend too much money, so they buy these things," Jack Mydlo, MD, professor and chair of urology at Temple University School of Medicine, tells WebMD.

"It's the snake oil of the new millennium... like a used car company that sells lemons," says Mydlo. "Most of these companies make their millions in a few months, and then pull up stakes by the time they're found out. They don't care, they've made their money."

16 Ingredients, but No Go

Enzyte is a typical, well-advertised example of "scores and scores" of erection supplements, says Schardt.

In their study, CSPI researchers analyzed evidence on the most common ingredients contained in Enzyte and similar products -- arginine, ginseng, ginkgo, horny goat weed, maca, and Tribulus terrestris (testicle tissue), and the herb yohimbe.

"There is no evidence that any of those ingredients in the amounts found in Enzyte have the effect they claim," Schardt says. "This applies to just about every one of these products out there."

Arginine occurs naturally in nearly every food, and is converted in the body into nitric oxide, which relaxes and opens up blood vessels in the body. In fact, Viagra works by increasing the availability of nitric oxide. But there is little or no evidence that taking arginine as a supplement works with any sexual problems, says the CSPI.

Yohimbe is an unreliable natural source of the prescription drug Yohimbine, which is sometimes prescribed for erectile dysfunction. But Yohimbine may cause sudden spikes in blood pressure, says CSPI.

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