Alabaster man, 4 others charged in male enhancement import scheme

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — An Alabaster man is one five people charged with selling dietary supplements containing the active ingredient of Viagra, according to federal prosecutors in Atlanta.

In an indictment unsealed this week the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Atlanta, Georgia accuses five men of conspiring to import and distribute misbranded products.

The indictment lists five defendants — Hardik Kumar Desai, Natenael Zeyid, Ismail Ali Khan, and Arbab Salim and Ahmed Ali Khan, of Alabaster. It says some of the drugs and dietary supplements contained pharmaceutical ingredients such as sildenafil, the active ingredient of Viagra.

The owner of Cahaba Pharmacy says there could be serious health implications for unsuspecting buyers.

“There’s some severe drug interactions with Viagra. If you ever take it with a nitrate for instance, you can have a lot of cardiac problems with it. It can be extremely harmful.  It can be very dangerous,” said Jim Parekh. “The other side effects also include blurred vision; you can have hearing impairment in some really odd cases. You can have blood pressure issues.”

In one section of the 24-page indictment, prosecutors say a product marketed as happy passengers contained the active ingredients of three prescriptions drug.

“On or before January 12, 2012, defendants caused the drugs “Happy Passengers” to be shipped from China to an address they controlled. The drugs contained sildenafil (the active pharmaceutical ingredient in Viagra), diazepam (the active pharmaceutical ingredient in Valium), and doxepine (the active pharmaceutical ingredient in Silenor).” Source: Case 1:14-CR-0197 U.S.D.C.

Parekh says diazepam and dioxpine can produce sedation among other effects on patients for whom they are prescribed.  He describes dioxpine as an anti-depressant that is also used to treat anxiety.

“It helps with mood stabilizing,” said Parekh.

He says Diazepam is a powerful anti-anxiety drug that is sometimes used to help prepare nervous patients for medical procedures.

“Some procedures are they can cause a lot of stress so they might give something like Valium, or diazepam,” said Parekh.

Combining the active ingredient in Viagra is practically unheard of from a medical standpoint, according to Parekh.

“I would never see those three medications prescribed together at the same time. It’s very, very unusual to ever see something like that,” said Parekh. “Unfortunately, they are not all natural. They are extremely strong components. Each individual drug you do have to have a prescription for. They are not available over the counter. And they have, they all have side effects. So if you combine all three of them. It, it can lead to honestly it’s, there’s so many bad outcomes that could happen it’s actually hard to figure out which one would happen.”

If it’s concerning to think about unsuspecting adults taking a powerful pharmaceutical cocktail, Parekh says it’s all the more disturbing to imagine the consequences for minors.

“They are all very strong components in and of themselves,” said Parekh. “If a teenager got a hold of it, it can, it could end badly.”

At Jack Rabbit Texaco in Homewood, clerk Amanda Williams says people shouldn’t have to worry if they can trust what’s on the labels of over the counter supplements.

“I really feel like people are just out to make any kind of money they can if they can turn it around to their benefit whether it’s illegal or legal. They do what they can. Hopefully they do get caught so it won’t affect other people who don’t know what they are getting,” said Williams.

{Hold for confirmation please-: The U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Northern District of Georgia says Ahmed Ali Khan of Alabaster was arrested in Alabama and made his initial court appearance before a U.S. Magistrate Judge in Birmingham.}

WIAT 42 News found several products on local store shelves with names matching the products mentioned in the indictment, but at this point no one has confirmed whether the ones in the Birmingham area are suspected of containing pharmaceutical ingredients.

Alabama is not specifically mentioned in the indictment.

Copyright 2014 WIAT 42 News

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