Beware, 44 percent Viagra sold on net is spurious | world | Hindustan Times
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Beware, 44 percent Viagra sold on net is spurious

Men who fall for fake drugs on the Net to correct failing erection or sexual problems can face high risks from potentially hazardous contents as 44 percent of Viagra sold this way is spurious.

world Updated: Jan 25, 2010 16:59 IST

Men who fall for fake drugs on the Net to correct failing erection or sexual problems can face high risks from potentially hazardous contents as 44 percent of Viagra sold this way is spurious.

Erectile dysfunction (ED) has largely spurred the growth of fake drugs, with as many as 2.3 million ED drugs being sold every month without prescription.

Medical and pharma experts from Britain, Sweden and US carried out a detailed review of the growing problem of spurious drugs and estimates suggest that up to 90 percent of these illegal preparations are now sold on the internet.

The US-based Centre for Medicine in the Public Interest further estimates that the global sale of fake drugs will reach a staggering $75 billion this year, a 92 percent increase in five years.

"The presence of unknown pharmaceutically active ingredients and/or impurities may lead to undesirable and serious adverse events, even death" warns Graham Jackson, a London-based cardiologist, who led the study.

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

The review, which covers more than 50 published studies between 1995 and 2009, provides a valuable overview of the scale of counterfeit internet drugs, with a specific focus on drugs.

But it's not just these drugs that pose a risk, as Jackson notes: "In Argentina, two pregnant women died after being given injections of a counterfeit iron preparation for anaemia and 51 children died in Bangladesh of kidney failure after taking paracetamol syrup contaminated with diethylene glycol, which is widely used as car antifreeze."

Other examples include fake contraceptive and antimalaria pills, counterfeit antibiotics and a vaccine for life-threatening meningitis that only contained water.

Counterfeit seizures in the European Union (EU) quadrupled between 2005 and 2007 and the number of drug fraud investigations carried out by the US Food and Drug Administration rose 800 per cent between 2000 and 2006, said an Interscience release.

ED drugs are the most commonly counterfeited product seized in the EU due to their high cost and the embarrassment associated with the underlying condition. Some estimates suggest that as many as 2.5 million men in the EU are using counterfeit Viagra.

These findings were published online by the International Journal of Clinical Practice.