Either Osama bin Laden or those who lived with him at the Pakistan compound where he was killed apparently suffered from stomach ulcers, high blood pressure and nerve pain — plus the normal ailments that affect a family with children, according to a pharmacist’s analysis of medications reportedly found at the site.
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In addition, the medicine cache was said to contain Avena syrup, a botanical product that has at least two uses: as an artificial sweetener often used for a sour stomach and as “natural Viagra” that could be used to increase sexual desire and potency.
“The caution is, we don’t know who used what,” said Cynthia Reilly, a pharmacist and director of practice development for the American Society of Health System Pharmacists. “And we know that in the United States, 40 percent of medication use is off label,” meaning it is used to treat conditions for which it has not been approved.
Reilly reviewed a list obtained by NBC News from Pakistani sources of nearly a dozen drugs found in the aftermath of the U.S. killing of the 9/11 terror mastermind on Sunday in Abbottabad, Pakistan. The medications provide some insight into ailments of the people living at the compound, but show no evidence of serious health conditions, such as the kidney failure rumored to afflict bin Laden.
“Quite honestly, there’s nothing here that indicates a long-term, chronic condition,” Reilly said.
The listed medications included drugs to ease the symptoms of stomach problems, such as ulcers and gastric reflux, Reilly said. A drug listed as Grucid, an Indian version of a drug sold in the U.S. as omeprazole, is used for that purpose, Reilly said. The list also includes something simply called “ulcer capsule.”
The medications also included gabapentin, a drug frequently used to control seizures or to ease nerve pain. The drug is often used to combat the burning or aching pain that lingers after shingles infections, Reilly said.
Natrilix, a drug used to treat high blood pressure and congestive heart failure, also was on the list. Notably, that drug should not be used by people with kidney failure, Reilly said.
The medicine chest included several remedies for children’s ear infections, colds and coughs. So-called “Penza drops” are known in the U.S. as ampicillin syrup. A drug identified as “Tixylax” likely refers to Tixylix, a nighttime cough syrup often used for children. “Brufen syp” appears to refer to ibuprofen, the common pain reliever, Reilly said.
In addition, investigators found “Dettole,” likely Dettol topical antiseptic products used to clean minor cuts and scrapes.
The discovery of Avena syrup raises questions about whether bin Laden or anyone at the compound was hoping to boost sexual desire and performance. Avena Sativa is an extract of wild oats, a dietary supplement marketed as an aphrodisiac known by the nicknames “natural Viagra” and “wild oats,” Reilly said.
“Again, we don’t know who used it,” Reilly said. “It could be used to soothe nerves or as a mood elevator. It could have been used by women to stimulate desire.”
Dr. Nancy Snyderman, NBC News chief medical editor, said that while the syrup is marketed as an aphrodisiac, little research has been done on the subject.
"There is a lot of folklore around its potential as a natural Viagra, but not a lot of science," she said. "Of course, it could have provided Osama with a psychosomatic boost".
Here’s the complete list obtained by NBC News:
2) Ulcer Capsule
3) Tab/Cap Gabapentin
4) Penza drops
7.) Avena syrup
8.) NIFIM, an antibiotic
9.) Syp, Tixylax , its use generally for children for chest problems
10.) Brufen syp
11.) Dettole, an antiseptic
Robert Windrem, NBC News investigative producer for special projects, contributed to this report.