Sexual Health Q&A

Is it safe to buy erection-enhancing drugs over the internet?

Generally, no. Consumers must be very careful buying any medication over the internet. Often, the medication received is counterfeit. In fact, a recent study in the Journal of Sexual Medicine found that 77% of websites that claimed to sell Viagra actually shipped a counterfeit product.

Why are counterfeits dangerous? Here are some of the reasons:

• They may be manufactured in places with poor quality control. This means the factory may not be regulated and may not follow the same safety rules as a factory that makes non-counterfeit drugs.

• They may contain harmful substances. For example, researchers have found talcum powder, paint, and printer ink in counterfeit samples of Viagra. Some counterfeit drugs are not made in sanitary facilities.

• They may include incorrect amounts of active or inactive ingredients. Consumers may end up taking too little or too much of an ingredient, which could cause harm.

• They may not come with instructions or an informational leaflet for patients. If there is no informational leaflet provided, a man may be unaware that he is taking something that could harm him. Taking a drug incorrectly or having a drug interaction can be dangerous, even fatal. For example, some men cannot take ED drugs because they interfere with medications they’re already taking, such as nitrates.

• They may deter men from seeing a healthcare provider. Some men buy medications over the internet because they are embarrassed to discuss erectile dysfunction with a doctor. However, ED can be a symptom of another medical condition, such as diabetes and heart disease. Seeing a doctor about ED can lead to important screenings and treatments for these conditions.

• Counterfeit medications may cause death. Studies have shown that people have died using counterfeits, including counterfeit ED drugs.

It’s important to note that not all medications purchased over the internet are counterfeit. Generic ED drugs are available in some countries and may be safely ordered online. For example, Canada is the latest country to allow a generic for Viagra, which is called Novo Sildenafil.