See more of the story

Federal agents at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport have seized an overseas shipment of more than 2,500 potentially harmful doses of what's promoted as vaginal tightening gel.

The gel-filled syringes were shipped from Hong Kong and destined for a home in Woodbury until Nov. 20, when U.S. Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) confiscated the unregulated product that was wrapped in pink packaging and appeared ready for sale online, the agency said Monday.

Had these items been sold, CBP estimated, the total domestic value would have been more than $19,000.

"Medications manufactured in nonregulated foreign companies often contain dangerous contaminants or ineffective compounds," a CBP statement read, "and though their packaging and labeling can be like genuine products, inconsistent ingredients and sub-par quality controls can endanger the consumer."

The gel's packaging includes a long list of ingredients and notes that the product also can be used for various vaginal discomforts.

The packaging has instructions for how the gel is to be applied, and warns that it should not be used by women who are menstruating, pregnant or have yet to have intercourse.

"This dangerous shipment is another example of someone using unregulated gels to prey on unknowing consumers with false promises," LaFonda D. Sutton-Burke, director of field operations for CBP's Chicago office, said in a statement.

"Not knowing what you are inserting in your body can be deadly," she added, "and consumers believe they are getting a discount, when in fact they are purchasing an inferior product with unapproved ingredients."

Medications purchased online can be improperly produced without pharmaceutical specifications and federally established safeguards that ensure their safe use. E-commerce trade soared during the pandemic, expanding foreign sellers' market access to the United States.