x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

One million sex pills seized by Customs

One and a half tonnes of counterfeit tablets with potential deadly effects discovered in routine inspection.

The pills came from an unidentified country in Asia.
The pills came from an unidentified country in Asia.

DUBAI // More than a million illegal Viagra-type sexual enhancement pills have been seized by Dubai Customs. The one-and-a-half ton seizure of the "Cobra" and "Maximum" brand drugs came after a routine inspection prompted officers to launch an investigation, said Mohammed al Marri, the executive director of Dubai Customs' cargo operations.

The drugs were flown into one of Dubai International Airport's cargo areas from an undisclosed Asian country by a Dubai-based company in the first quarter of this year. Investigators sent samples of the pills to the Ministry of Health for analysis. "We launched an investigation when we discovered that the company was not registered to import pharmaceuticals," Mr al Merri said. The department reported that the pills contained 130mg of sildenafil citrate, the active ingredient in Viagra. The drug is also prescribed to treat pulmonary hypertension, or dangerously high blood pressure.

At 130mg, the pills exceeded the maximum 100mg dose of sildenafil citrate allowed by federal authorities. The Cobra pills had been banned by federal health authorities, said Mr al Merri. "The pills were banned because of side effects. In the number they arrived at, they could have caused a potentially deadly effect on the region," he said. Dr Waleed Hassan, the chief of urology at Tawam Hospital, said although sildenafil citrate normally has minimal side effects, unregistered or counterfeit medicines can be dangerous.

"A lot of issues are found with unregistered medicines, due to the fact that the doses are unregulated and the mixture with other substances can provide a harmful combination," he said. Mr al Merri said the company suspected of importing the drugs claimed they were meant to be re-exported, but had official declaration documents indicating that they were bound for Dubai. The company is under investigation.