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Consumer Reports: Hidden ingredients may be found in supplements sold online

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Posted at 10:37 AM, Jan 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-26 13:50:28-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (CONSUMER REPORTS/WTVF) — Getting in shape and improving one's health is a popular New Year's resolution and for some, that includes taking dietary supplements.

But before you do, consumers should be aware of potentially dangerous substances in some supplements that are sold online.

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

So, you may be surprised to hear that the Food and Drug Administration found these 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 "No. 1 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 they must accurately list ingredients on the label - what the FDA found were essentially 'hidden' drugs in many of these supplements," said Ryan Felton with Consumer Reports.

EBay responded to Consumer Reports saying, the company is "reviewing the site and will be removing" the violative products.

Amazon said it was, "reviewing the information from the FDA and are taking 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," Felton said.

If you take supplements be sure to check the FDA’s tainted products database to make sure the supplement you’re taking isn’t listed. Even if the supplement you take isn’t on the list, you should still be cautious.

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

Lastly, if you do experience any sort of reaction after taking a supplement, the FDA wants to hear from you. You can file what’s called an “adverse event report” online. Of course, if you're experiencing a serious side effect, call your doctor or 911 immediately.