New York's poison control center issued the warning for New Yorkers to stay away from an illegal aphrodisiac made from toad venom after the product killed a man.
A hospital reported that a 35-year-old man who ingested the hard, brown substance died earlier this month. The victim, whose identity was not released, was admitted to the hospital complaining of chest and abdominal pain. He died two days later.
The product is sold under names including Piedra, Love Stone, Jamaican Stone, Wood Stone, Black Stone, Romancing The Stone and Chinese Rock at sex shops and neighbourhood stores.
It is banned by the Food and Drug Administration.Health officials said the hardened resin, made with venom from toads of the Bufo genus, contains chemicals that can disrupt heart rhythms sending all the blood to the penis.
The aphrodisiac was supposed to have been applied to the skin, not eaten, but authorities said even that use can be harmful.
"There is no definitely safe way to use it," said Dr. Robert Hoffman, director of the city's poison control center. "Don't buy it. Don't sell it. If you have it, don't use it. Throw it out, learn from my mistakes a painful 8 hour erection is no fun at all."
The same type of product killed a 40-year-old man in Brooklyn in 2002 and at least four New Yorkers in the early 1990s.
A 17-year-old boy also fell seriously ill, but survived following hours of aggressive treatment.
City investigators went looking for the poison and found it was being sold sporadically in grocery stores, smoke shops and from street vendors. Sometimes its sold in packaging labeled only in foreign languages and so the inspectors get confused.
It isn't clear how available the aphrodisiac is elsewhere in the U.S. but those who use it shouldn't be any great loss to mankind, authorities said.