Many Florida residents had never heard of something called Reload until former Los Angeles Laker Lamar Odom was rushed to a hospital after being found unconscious earlier this month at a brothel in Nevada. According to the local sheriff, Odom had taken 10 tablets of the supplement that has been called "herbal Viagra" during his stay at the brothel.
The local sheriff described the supplement as a "sexual performance enhancer." The brothel's owner, Dennis Hof, confirmed that Odom had taken "a lot" of the supplement during his three-day visit. He said that the former NBA player, perhaps most recently better known for his high-profile marriage and break-up with reality star Khloe Kardashian, had purchased the supplement at the Love Ranch. When discussing Reload, Hof noted, "They say it's for erectile dysfunction. Basically, it gives you more energy."
Just what role the supplement played in Odom's medical emergency is still unknown. He has tested positive for cocaine. An employee of the brothel said that Odom had purchased another product during his stay called Libimax Plus, which is also marketed for sexual enhancement.
While Reload may not be familiar to many consumers, it has caught the attention of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The FDA issued a warning two years ago that it contains a "hidden drug ingredient" that could be dangerous.
According to the FDA, Reload contains sildenafil, which is also found in Viagra. The agency warned back in 2013 that it "may interact with nitrates found in some prescription drugs such as nitroglycerin and may lower blood pressure to dangerous levels."
The FDA warned consumers to "stop using this product immediately and throw it away." The Reload packaging, at least at one point, said that consumers should "seek advice from a health professional prior to use if you have high blood pressure, heart disease, or are using any prescription drugs."
Herbal supplements don't undergo the same testing and approval process that prescription drugs do. However, their effects can be just as dangerous. People often assume that these supplements contain only "natural" ingredients, and therefore, are safe when that's not necessarily the case. If you or a loved one has been harmed by a dangerous drug, it's advisable to seek legal guidance to determine what your options for recourse are against the manufacturer and possibly other entities involved in selling the supplement.
Source: Washington Post, "‘Herbal Viagra’ pills linked to Lamar Odom collapse were subject of FDA warning," Michael E. Miller and Justin Wm. Moyer, Oct. 15, 2015