The New York City Department of Health is warning local residents to beware of an illegal aphrodisiac drug after a man died from the substance.
The agency released a public alert on Nov. 4 warning residents to avoid a certain aphrodisiac after a 39-year-old man reportedly died after congesting the drug sometime in the week of Oct. 26 to Nov.1.
The Department of Health put out the alert after a local hospital reported the suspicious death to the New York City Poison Control Center.
The men's aphrodisiac is known simply as "stone," but also goes by other names including "Piedra China," "Jamaican Stone," and "China Rock."
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According to the health alert, the hard, dark brown substance is typically sold in chunks less than a square inch in size. The product, which may be found in clear labeled packaging, is sold in small neighborhood stores including adult stores.
The drug reportedly contains chemicals called bufadienolides, which are derived from toad venom and can interfere with normal heart functioning with potentially lethal results. Symptoms of heart problems caused by "stone" poisoning include chest pain, abdominal pain, and vomiting.
The statement added that the aphrodisiac, which is officially banned by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration but is still imported and sold illegally, could also cause injury when applied to the skin.
The health agency, which is currently working with federal law enforcement to remove the product from store shelves, has asked healthcare providers in the New York City area to report possible cases of aphrodisiac poisoning to the city's Poison Control Center.
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This is not the first time this particular drug has caused fatalities in the New York City area. Seven cases of "stone" poisoning have been reported in the city since 2000, and four other deaths related to the drug occurred between 1993 and 1995.
The Department of Health released a similar public warning in May 2008 when another man died from the aphrodisiac, the New York Times reported at the time.
The man, 35, reportedly checked into a local emergency room due to severe chest and abdominal pain about 12 hours after ingesting the drug. The poisoning victim, who had an abnormally slow heart rhythm, died in the hospital 36 hours after being admitted, according to the New York Times.
Authorities are increasing their efforts to regulate potentially dangerous drugs aimed at treating sexual dysfunction. Earlier this year, the FDA revoked marketing authorization for six brands of herbal aphrodisiac for men, Graphic Online reported on July 20. These drugs are now prohibited from being sold to consumers.
Photo Credit: NYC Department of Health/New York Times