Men who buy erectile dysfunction drugs on the Internet risk ingesting hazardous contents and may miss out on treatment for associated conditions like cardiac disease and high blood pressure, according to a study in the International Journal of Clinical Practice.
To reach these conclusions, Graham Jackson and colleagues reviewed more than 50 studies of Internet drug purchasing behavior that had been published between 1995 and 2009.
ED drugs were the most commonly counterfeited product purchased over the Internet, presumably because of their high cost and the stigma associated with the underlying condition. As many as 2.5 million men are using counterfeit Viagra in the European Union alone, according Jackson’s group.
As many as 2.3 million ED drugs are orderred online each month worldwide, and most of them are secured without a prescription. Approximately 44% of the Viagra purchased on line is counterfeit.
Counterfeit forms of other drugs are a problem as well, Jackson’s group found. In Argentina for example, 2 pregnant women died after receiving injections of a bogus iron preparation, and 51 children died of kidney failure in Bangladesh after swallowing a Tylenol-like syrup laced with antifreeze.
Jackson’s study also revealed examples of counterfeit contraceptives, antimalarials and antibiotics.
Global sales of counterfeit drugs will reach $75 billion this year, according to the Center for Medicine in the Public Interest. That’s up 92% in just 5 years. Nearly 90% of the bogus elixirs are sold on the Internet.
“In some cases producing counterfeit medicine can be 10 times as profitable per kilogram as heroin, yet in the UK someone can face greater legal sanctions if they produce a counterfeit T-shirt,” Jackson, a London cardiologist told BurrillReport.
“What is clear is that we need much greater public awareness of the risks of buying counterfeit drugs, as lives are at risk.”