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Jan. 20 2010 - 11:16 am | 329 views | 0 recommendations | 7 comments

When erections can kill: New warnings about online scams

A pack of 4 Viagra tablets

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I’ve been covering the sham that is erectile dysfunction supplements for months now. My interest in alternative health practices means that I’m often inundated with websites and pseudo-science on the benefits of various herbs, tonics and tinctures that can cure a lagging sex drive. The fact is, some of these pharmaceuticals – which are often sold online – are downright dangerous.

That’s because ‘natural’ supplements can contain unlabeled ingredients, and online Viagra is often straight up fake. A new report published in the International Journal of Clinical Practice shows just how scary your erection can become, if you opt to self-medicate. The report, a collaboration by health officials in the UK, US and Sweden, reviewed over 50 studies of online medical sales and subsequent health problems, most of them related to erectile dysfunction drugs. And, if you were wondering, there are a lot of those meds being sold: around 2.3 billion a month.

If you think you managed to score legit Viagra online, think again. More than half the pills tested were fake, and they make up a large portion of the booming industry of counterfeit drugs, which now rakes in around $75-billion a year. In the European Union, it’s estimated that 2.5 million men are swallowing counterfeit Viagra.

So why do researchers suspect that erectile dysfunction drugs are some of the most common online purchases? Embarrassment associated with the underlying condition. Know what’s more embarrassing than not getting it up? Not getting it up and ingesting printer ink:

[The study] found that that a Hungarian sample contained amphetamine, a UK sample contained caffeine and bulk lactose and that printer ink had been used to colour some samples blue. Other samples contained metronidazole, which can have significant adverse effects when combined with alcohol.”

And, on a more serious note, there’s the whole “not getting it up…and then dying” problem:

“We discovered that 150 patients had been admitted to hospitals in Singapore after taking counterfeit tadalfil and herbal preparations that claimed to cure ED. Seven were comatose, as the drugs contained a powerful drug used to treat diabetes, and four subsequently died.”


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  1. collapse expand

    The lead sentence had me stumbling mentally. To wit: “I’ve been covering the sham that is erectile dysfunction supplements for months now.” Why not: I’ve been covering the erectile dysfunction supplements scam for months now? It’s a little easier on the mental tongue, I think.
    On subject, I am 70-years-old. I don’t have a major problem just yet, but I see symptoms of one on some occasions. But even once is too much! I saw my physician and he gave me 3 viagra pills (50mg). I guffawed! I asked if he thought that the 3 pills would do for me until my next visit, 3 months hence. He asked me to call in on an “as needed basis.” He said he was afraid to prescribe more for anybody, because even retired guys were selling them to young people for up to $10 a pill! It apparently gives the young user a profound rush(women included, so says he). That I have to call his office every week is an inconvenience. If others have to do the same, I can see some men opting for online products. Personally, in my view, they need their heads (no pun intended) examined!

  2. collapse expand

    Palavering:

    a) I like to engage my readers with syntactical challenges every so often. Keeps the brain fresh.

    b) I hadn’t heard about in-person resale of Viagra, but I guess it makes sense. And not sure what kind of control could be implemented…interesting.

  3. collapse expand

    God only knows why I was watching Spike TV, but I happened to catch a quick segment within a program called ‘1000 Ways To Die’ that had something to do with this – apparently not only was the erectile drug that a certain guy take not completely legit, but he mixed it with an assorted cocktail of other drugs. According to the show (dubious) he died as he reached climax. Either the worst or best way to go, as far as I’m concerned.
    Anyway. Printer ink? Horrifying.

  4. collapse expand

    MissP, I am going to be honest, by reading the title this is not what I thought this post would be about :D

  5. collapse expand

    I have tried prescription meds and the some of the stuff they sell on the internet. the pills the dr. gave me work but now I can’t take them cause they found something with my heart. the only other thing that works is Virection, and no problem taking it with my heart.

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    I'm a full-time heath & science writer at Sphere and a contributing editor at True/Slant. I also contribute military health news to Danger Room at Wired.com, and have recently written for Marie Claire, World Politics Review and Next American City.

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