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Health Drink Blamed for Persistent Penile Erection

On June 5, 2004, Christopher Woods, a 29-year old resident in New York, drank Boost Plus, a vitamin enriched beverage, made by the Swiss-based Novartis Pharmaceutical company.

When he woke up the next day, he had an erection that would not go away. He had to go for medical advice and for treatment of the condition called severe priapism, according to his court papers.

Priapism is persistent, painful erection of the penis. Recurrent or severe episodes can result in future impotence. Treatment is often not satisfactory.

According to the lawsuit filed recently, a surgery for implantation of a Winter shunt was performed to move blood from one area to another. Later, he had problems and had to be hospitalised briefly for penile artery embolisation, a procedure to close off blood vessels to lessen the likelihood of an erection.

In his lawsuit, that sought unspecified damages, he has named Novartis Consumer Health Inc as a defendant. The advertisements for Boost Plus describe the drink as a ``great tasting, high calorie, nutritionally complete oral supplement for people requiring extra energy and protein in a limited volume''. Boost Plus is available in vanilla, chocolate and strawberry.

The company is aware of the lawsuit, accepted a spokesperson unwilling to comment on the litigation pending before the courts.


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