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Odom: FDA has issued numerous warnings about 'herbal Viagra'

By Doug G. Ware
Odom: FDA has issued numerous warnings about 'herbal Viagra'
Los Angeles Clippers' Lamar Odom (pictured here in 2012) collapsed at a Las Vegas area brothel after reportedly taking "herbal Viagra" -- a supplement targeted by the Food and Drug Administration due to potential risks. The FDA issued 20 warnings about sexual enhancement supplements in 2015. Photo by Lori Shepler/UPI | License Photo

LAS VEGAS, Oct. 14 (UPI) -- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has issued 20 warnings this year about the potential dangers of so-called "herbal Viagra," a substance NBA player Lamar Odom allegedly took before he was found unconscious.

The focus on the supplement has come to light after former Los Angeles basketball star Odom was found unconscious Tuesday at a brothel outside Las Vegas. Reports said he had taken a sexual enhancement supplement -- and the investigating sheriff said the basketball star had apparently also used cocaine over the weekend.

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Odom was hospitalized in Las Vegas and one source said his chances of survival are about 50 percent, entertainment news outlet TMZ reported Wednesday.

Nye County Sheriff Sharon Wehrly told reporters Wednesday that employees at the brothel told 911 dispatchers that Odom had been using cocaine three days before he collapsed and was found unresponsive.

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Investigators said they have sent a blood sample taken from Odom to the police laboratory, which may indicate any substances inside his body.

Concerning "herbal Viagra," the FDA issued numerous warnings in March and April of this year regarding various sexual enhancement supplements that are sold in stores and over the Internet.

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In one from April 30, the agency said a product called "King of Romance" actually contained real prescription Viagra.

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"FDA laboratory analysis confirmed that King of Romance contains sildenafil, the active ingredient in the FDA approved prescription drug Viagra," the warning said. "This undeclared ingredient may interact with nitrates found in some prescription drugs such as nitroglycerin and may lower blood pressure to dangerous levels."

In some cases, the FDA has noted, all the ingredients in the herbal products aren't labeled on the package -- meaning users have no way of knowing what they are ingesting.

Various news outlets, such as the Los Angeles Times and NBC News, underscored the FDA warnings Wednesday in response to Odom's ill health.

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Odom, who was drafted fourth overall in 1999 out of the University of Rhode Island, played for 14 years in the NBA for various teams -- but is most remembered as part of the Los Angeles Lakers and Los Angeles Clippers.

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