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November 27, 2014

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Drug mix marketed to men prompts investigations

Pharmacist has said he broke no laws with his pill

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Vegas Mixx

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The federal Drug Enforcement Administration is one of three agencies investigating the manufacture and distribution of Vegas Mixx — a crudely marketed combination of Valium and Viagra that promised to heal sexual dysfunction and was targeted for the local nightclub scene — sources tell the Sun.

Two sources familiar with the investigations said pharmacist Scot Silber, part owner of Green Valley Drugs and creator of Vegas Mixx, is also being investigated by the Nevada Public Safety Department and the State Board of Pharmacy.

At issue is whether the pharmacy was producing the pills on speculation and distributing samples rather than waiting for patient-specific prescriptions from doctors. Also, one source told the Sun that Silber was selling the pills for cash without a prescription, an allegation he denied.

Silber told the Sun in November he was not aware of any investigations. He did not reply to the Sun’s requests to comment for this story.

The allegations about Vegas Mixx are serious enough to get the attention of investigators, said John Hunt, an attorney who sits on Nevada’s Prescription Drug Task Force. Silber is accused of disregarding regulations that protect the public, Hunt said.

“There are allegedly multiple mistakes by those people who were putting this out in our community, and those can only lead to a tragedy,” Hunt said. “It’s as simple as that.”

In 2007, when Silber combined into a single pill Diazepam and Sildenafil — better known by the brand names Valium and Viagra — he thought he had a hot new product that would bring in big profits for his pharmacy, he told the Sun in November. On the Vegas Mixx Web site — which was shut down after inquiries by a producer of “Face to Face With Jon Ralston” — Silber and his marketing partner, Dale Matteson, promised the combination would mellow the mind, relax the muscle that causes ejaculation and provide a lasting erection. The Web site promised men would be able to perform “like a porn star.”

The late entertainer Danny Gans, who died May 1 of a prescription narcotics overdose, was a part owner of the pharmacy. Silber said Gans was unaware of Vegas Mixx. The performer, known for his squeaky-clean image, would not have approved of Vegas Mixx, he said.

Silber said he invested thousands of dollars in Vegas Mixx, but sales never took off so he recently gave up on the product.

But there may have been legal problems with the way the pharmacy manufactured and distributed Vegas Mixx. The drug combination takes on a higher profile because of Valium, a controlled substance heavily regulated by the DEA.

Green Valley Drugs is a compounding pharmacy, which means it’s allowed to combine drugs, but only with a patient-specific prescription from a doctor. The investigations focus on the possible illegal manufacture and distribution of controlled substances, the sources said.

Silber said Vegas Mixx was never distributed without a prescription and said he never broke any laws.

He told the Sun he made batches of Vegas Mixx to distribute as samples to doctors throughout Las Vegas to create demand for the product. Pharmacy experts say that sounds more like manufacturing, which requires a special license from the Food and Drug Administration.

In addition, the law requires doctors to perform face-to-face examinations with patients before prescribing controlled substances. But doctors who were approached by Silber when he was trying to sell Vegas Mixx said the pharmacist had planned having the physicians write prescriptions for Vegas Mixx after gathering a patient’s history and evaluating his condition via the Internet, versus conducting actual examinations.

“They were looking for doctors to sign up, to basically put themselves in the clear on dispensing (controlled) substances,” Dr. Warren Magnus told the Sun.

Magnus said he distanced himself from Silber because the proposal seemed illegal. Silber said that after the initial meeting with Magnus, he realized examinations would be necessary, and no prescriptions were ever filled over the Internet.

In a separate matter, family and friends of a man who died after Silber, while working at a different pharmacy, missed a pharmacy technician’s error were angry about comments Silber made in a previous Sun story. The label was supposed to tell the patient to take 1/2 to 1 cc of Roxanol — a highly concentrated form of morphine — but it instead said 1/2 to one teaspoon of Roxanol.

Silber was disciplined in 2004 by the Pharmacy Board for the error, but told the Sun the patient intentionally killed himself.

Family members and friends of the man called the Sun to say that he was not suicidal and died as a result of Silber’s mistake.

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