HEALTH officials in the United States have blamed a Hong Kong-made aphrodisiac for the deaths of four men. According to the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), four New York men died after taking an aphrodisiac allegedly from Tsang Fook Kee Medicine Company based in Hong Kong. The four ingested the product, which was meant to be applied to the genitals but was sold without instructions. The men later suffered from vomiting and irregular heartbeats and eventually cardiac arrest. Researchers said the product contained digoxin, a heart stimulant made from dried purple foxglove leaves, and a steroid with similar properties. The brown, rock-like substance includes dried toad secretions and causes hallucinations. It is no longer legally available in the US. In the wake of the US warning, Hong Kong health officials will launch an investigation and seek more details from their American counterparts on the product before taking steps against its sale. The Sunday Morning Post was unable to buy the product yesterday, sold overseas as Rock, Rock Hard and Black Stone, when it visited the firm's Sheung Wan premises. Sales staff said the company only sold three aphrodisiacs: a lotion to be applied to the genitals; pills; and a herbal mixture to be taken orally. A staff member said the company did not sell any aphrodisiac in the shape of a brown compressed cube as described in the CDC's weekly health reports. Staff in several medicine shops in Sheung Wan and Wan Chai said they had never heard of the brands, and were not familiar with any product of that nature made by a Tsang Fook Kee Company. The Department of Health is to seek more information from the US before conducting laboratory tests since it has no knowledge of the alleged drug and has so far failed to identify the drug's maker. 'In Hong Kong, there are no regulations on herbal medicine, but if a Western medicine contained digoxin, it would need a prescription,' the spokesman said. 'Manufacturers are required to be registered, but so far we have checked our records and there is no manufacturer listed under that name.' The department said there were no reports or complaints filed over anyone having died as a result of taking aphrodisiac drugs in the territory. Herbalist Lam Sam, 35, said he was not aware of the existence of drugs made by Tsang Fook Kee. He also discouraged patients from applying herbs to their genitals. Mr Lam said the philosophy of traditional Chinese medicine was to heal the body as a whole, and to treat only a part of the body was against the principle. 'I have treated many patients with sex problems but I never tell them to use any aphrodisiac drug,' he said. Meanwhile, a lecturer at the Chinese University of Hong Kong issued a warning yesterday for people to take care when taking the popular royal jelly as a health tonic because it could bring on asthma attacks in some people.