PHILADELPHIA – One U.S. man traveling home from the Dominican Republic made his U.S. Customs and Border Protection arrivals inspection a lot harder on himself after officers found his baggage to be full of erectile dysfunction medicine this past Sunday at Philadelphia International Airport.
To be precise, CBP officers discovered 912 pills of 100 mg strength tablets and 71 vials of 15 ml liquid all labeled as sildenafil citrate in the baggage of a U.S. man who arrived on a flight from Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic. Sildenafil citrate is the generic name for Viagra, a popular erectile dysfunction medicine, also known as the little blue pill.
CBP officers initially detected the pills while conducting a planeside inspection of baggage being offloaded from the flight. Officers notified other officers in CBP’s federal inspection station who waited for the traveler to retrieve his baggage and then conducted a thorough secondary baggage examination.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which regulates pharmaceuticals, prohibits the import of generic versions of FDA-approved drugs from foreign countries. According to the FDA, consumers get no assurances that the foreign-made versions of FDA-approved drugs have been properly manufactured, are safe and effective, and are the same formulation as the FDA-approved versions available in U.S. pharmacies.
The FDA offers tips on traveling with medications. Travelers should have a valid prescription or doctor’s note written in English for medications they bring into the United States, and the medication should be in its original container with the doctor’s instructions printed on the bottle. The rule of thumb is to import no more than a 90-day supply.
Sildenafil citrate requires a prescription. The traveler admitted to not possessing a prescription, and CBP officers seized the medicines before they released the traveler.
“Consumers may think that they are getting deeply discounted pharmaceuticals from other countries, but medications that are not approved by the FDA may be an inferior product with unregulated ingredients and pose potentially serious health and safety consequences to consumers,” said Joseph Martella, CBP’s Area Port Director for the Area Port of Philadelphia. “CBP strongly encourages all travelers to know what they can and cannot bring with them to the United States by visiting our Travel website during your trip planning.”
The FDA also offers tips on purchasing pharmaceuticals and dietary supplements from online pharmacies. Purchasing controlled substances through online vendors is risky not only for the consumer’s health, but also their wallet. Prescription medications manufactured in non-regulated foreign companies may contain dangerous contaminants or ineffective compounds, and though their packaging and labeling can be similar to genuine products, inconsistent ingredients and sub-par quality controls can endanger the consumer.
Prescription medicines are among the more common inadmissible or prohibited products that passengers bring to the United States. Travelers are encouraged to visit CBP’s Travel website to learn more about products that are prohibited or inadmissible.
With international travel picking up post-COVID and the coming busy summer travel season, CBP urges all travelers to ‘know before you go’ and learn tips to quickly clear CBP’s arrivals inspection process.
CBP's border security mission is led at our nation’s 328 ports of entry by CBP officers from the Office of Field Operations. CBP officers screen international travelers and cargo and search for illicit narcotics, unreported currency, weapons, counterfeit consumer goods, prohibited agriculture, and other illicit products that could potentially harm the American public, U.S. businesses, and our nation’s safety and economic vitality. Learn what CBP accomplished during "A Typical Day" in 2021.
Follow the Director of CBP’s Baltimore Field Office on Twitter at @DFOBaltimore for breaking news, current events, human interest stories and photos. Follow CBP’s Office of Field Operations on Instagram at @cbpfieldops.