Rhino pills: effective ED treatment or scam?

Raagini Yedidi, MD - Contributor Avatar

Reviewed by Raagini Yedidi, MD, 

Written by Michael Martin 

Raagini Yedidi, MD - Contributor Avatar

Reviewed by Raagini Yedidi, MD, 

Written by Michael Martin 

last updated: Mar 13, 2024

4 min read

Key takeaways

  • Rhino pills are “male enhancement pills” often purchased at gas stations. These pills are not FDA approved and are unlikely to work (and may even be unsafe). 

You’ve probably seen pills that claim to improve male enhancement at your local gas station. And you may even have been tempted to give them a try. Rhino pills, often marketed as dietary supplements to improve sexual performance, have gained some attention in recent years. 

But do Rhino pills actually work? At best, probably not. At worst, Rhino pills can contain counterfeit, unregulated, and unmeasured ingredients that may be dangerous.  Continue reading to learn more about why you should opt for evidence-based erectile dysfunction (ED) treatments.

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What are Rhino pills?

Rhino pills are a "male enhancement" or "sexual enhancement" product you'll find at some convenience stores or gas stations, also referred to as “gas station pills.” Like most products of this type, they contain a number of herbs and supplements purported to help you get and maintain erections. Rhino pills are sold in a number of varieties, including Rhino 69, Gold Rhino 25000, Platinum Rhino 25000, Krazzy Rhino 25000, and other variations of the name. They often come in similar packaging, with an image of a large rhino. But questionable branding isn't the only issue with these alleged sexual enhancement pills.

These over-the-counter sexual enhancement products aren’t approved by the FDA and don’t require a prescription. Unsurprisingly, they can be dangerous. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued warnings that some pills may contain ingredients not listed on the label—including substances that should only be dispensed by prescription because of the risk of side effects or dangerous drug interactions. These pills may contain cheap, experimental versions of the active ingredients found in prescription ED medications. Some samples have been found to contain printer ink, paint, talcum powder, antidepressants, antibiotics, and amphetamines. 

Do Rhino pills work?

Rhino pills can be deceptive. Because they purportedly contain ingredients that increase blood flow and swelling of the penis, at first, they may seem to work. The problem is that the substances and doses of active ingredients in Rhino pills are unstudied, unregulated, and illegal to sell without a prescription. So you might get an erection, but you might also get unpredictable and dangerous side effects.

There is no evidence to support Rhino pills as an effective and safe treatment for erectile dysfunction. If you’re going to take on personal risk to strengthen your erections, you should know what you’re putting into your body. Rhino pills might illegally contain the active ingredients of Viagra. However, since they’re completely unregulated, there could be almost no active ingredient or so much that dangerous effects can occur, and there would be no way of knowing. 

Side effects of Rhino pills

Rhino pills do not list risks and side effects on their packaging (another red flag). The FDA has established potential side effects of taking Rhino pills, including: 

  • Chest pain

  • Severe headaches

  • Prolonged erections leading to surgical intervention

  • Extreme drops in blood pressure

Of course, people might also experience side effects even with prescription medications. However, those effects are listed on the FDA labels for those medications. More importantly, since someone is prescribing the medications, you can always talk to a healthcare provider if you’re experiencing any issues and adjust your medication or dose as necessary. 

Rhino pills warnings 

Many Rhino products claim to contain the active ingredients found in Viagra and Cialis, but these ingredients are undeclared and unlicensed. One of the reasons these ingredients should only be prescribed and administered by medical professionals is that they can interact dangerously (sometimes fatally) with other medications and medical conditions. (FDA, 2018). The FDA labels for Viagra and Cialis mention the following medications could have negative interactions with erectile dysfunction medications. It could be dangerous to take rhino pills without knowing about hidden ingredients. While it’s possible to take some of these medications along with Viagra or Cialis, a healthcare provider should be involved in the decision-making.

  • Heart medications: Nitrates (nitroglycerin) and blood pressure medications (especially alpha-blockers such as doxazosin) are often used to treat heart conditions. The combination can cause a dangerous and possibly fatal drop in blood pressure. 

  • HIV medications: Antiviral medications like ritonavir, which is often taken for HIV, may interfere with your liver’s ability to clear Viagra from your body, causing an increased risk of toxic effects. People on these medicines may need to take Viagra at a lower dose. 

  • Antibiotics and antifungals: Medications that treat bacterial and fungal infections, like erythromycin, itraconazole, and ketoconazole, may also interfere with your liver’s ability to get rid of Viagra, which could require changes in dosing. 

In December 2019, the FDA issued another public notification urging people not to buy Rhino pills. The agency's lab testing found that Super Platinum 30000 RHINO 7 contained tadalafil (brand name Cialis), a prescription drug for ED. Because it's illegal to include prescription drugs in over-the-counter products, the medication wasn't listed as an ingredient in the Rhino pills. This hidden ingredient can lead to potentially deadly drug interactions.

Viagra Important Safety Information: Read more about serious warnings and safety info.

Cialis Important Safety Information: Read more about serious warnings and safety info.

Over-the-counter Viagra

You can't buy Viagra (sildenafil) over the counter. All ED medications require a prescription, and as you've just read, there are good reasons. They are vasodilators, meaning they cause blood vessels in the body to dilate (open). That has the potential to cause side effects, and you shouldn't take them if you have certain medical conditions or are taking certain other medications.

To be safe, assume that any "male enhancement" or "sexual enhancement" product you see on store shelves, or anything marketed as "natural Viagra," is likely to be ineffective at best and potentially dangerous at worst. That's because the FDA doesn't regulate dietary supplements like prescription drugs.

There’s a slight—slight—caveat to that. Some small scientific studies have found certain herbs and nutritional supplements could benefit your erection. These supplements include L-arginine, DHEA, ginseng, L-carnitine, and yohimbe. However, supplements are minimally regulated, and study results have been mixed. While some studies show a benefit, other studies of the same supplements don’t show the same effect.

Viagra vs. Rhino pills 

You can't buy Viagra (sildenafil) over the counter. All ED medications require a prescription, and for good reason. If you’re having trouble getting or staying hard, try erectile dysfunction medications that are proven to be safe and effective when taken as prescribed. ED medications, including Viagra, belong to a class of drugs called PDE-5 inhibitors.  As of now, there are four FDA-approved prescription ED medications: 

  • Sildenafil (the active ingredient in Viagra)

  • Tadalafil (brand name Cialis) 

  • Vardenafil (brand name Levitra or Staxyn) 

  • Avanafil (brand name Stendra). 

It’s easier than ever to get quality, prescription ED medications online. ED medications can be shipped discreetly to your home after a consultation and prescription from a healthcare provider. If prescription medications aren’t right for you, products like cock rings and penis pumps can help you get and keep an erection during sex. 

If you’re experiencing erectile medication, steer clear of Rhino pills and other dangerous gas station treatments and make an appointment with your healthcare provider. They will work with you to develop a safe and effective treatment plan to help you achieve a fulfilling sex life. 


If you have any medical questions or concerns, please talk to your healthcare provider. The articles on Health Guide are underpinned by peer-reviewed research and information drawn from medical societies and governmental agencies. However, they are not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

How we reviewed this article

Every article on Health Guide goes through rigorous fact-checking by our team of medical reviewers. Our reviewers are trained medical professionals who ensure each article contains the most up-to-date information, and that medical details have been correctly interpreted by the writer.

Current version

March 13, 2024

Written by

Michael Martin

Fact checked by

Raagini Yedidi, MD

About the medical reviewer

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