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    Fake Viagra: what you need to know

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      Box of fake pills

      Record amount of fake Viagra seized

      The black market trade of Viagra has risen to historic heights; since 2013 there has been a 980% increase in the amount of fake and unlicensed Viagra seized in the UK.

      2019 was a year where a huge amount of the cheap Indian version of Viagra ‘kamagra’ being sold to Brits looking for a Viagra alternative for sexual dysfunction. Kamagra gel costs as little as £3 per sachet on the black market and is sold at car boot sales, on market stalls and in pubs and clubs. Kamagra also contains sildenafil, the active ingredient of Viagra, but it has not undergone the same safety tests that licensed products have.

      In 2019 the MHRA (Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency) seized approximately £17 million worth of counterfeit Viagra in raids carried out across the UK at British ports, depots and suspected dealer’s homes.

      An MHRA spokeswoman said: ‘Medicines purchased outside the regulated supply chain can be risky. There is no guarantee the products will be authorised medicines and no guarantee they meet standards of quality and safety. They may contain dangerous ingredients with devastating consequences to your health. Criminals have no interest in your health and wellbeing, they are only concerned with making money.’

      The online black market for fake Viagra tablets

      The circulation of counterfeit Viagra has received a massive boost from internet sales, and it is estimated that nearly 80% of Viagra bought online is fake. Alongside ‘miracle’ supplements, fake Viagra pills can be bought online for as little as £2.

      The internet provides the perfect environment for dubious sellers to pedal unlicensed drugs at a fraction of the cost of the regulated prescription treatments they imitate. Erectile dysfunction drugs like Kamagra, which are not licenced for sale in the UK, are also witnessing a boom in online sales, as well as unregulated ‘herbal’ or ‘natural’ products.

      Many illegal sellers pose as online pharmacists on their websites, offering an alternative Viagra. In reality, they are often complete strangers to the medical profession and operate their trade out of someone’s garden shed.

      However, the scale of the problem goes far beyond the UK – the Viagra manufacturer Pfizer has already identified fake versions of the pill in 111 countries.

      How dangerous is fake Viagra?

      Being completely unregulated, there is no way of knowing how fake Viagra is produced, or indeed what the drugs actually contain.

      A large amount of fake Viagra pills seized in the UK are believed to be produced in India in medically questionable circumstances. The locations in which the drugs are produced are often unhygienic and may expose the drugs to toxic chemicals.

      Fake Viagra pills themselves can be laden with toxic ingredients. Lab-tested fake Viagra pills have revealed a horrifying cocktail of ingredients, from detergents, to road paint, to talcum powder.

      Not knowing the dosage of Viagra’s active ingredient (sildenafil) in any given pill can itself be dangerous if not lead to death by Viagra. Sudden dosage changes can be dangerous if you are used to a lower dosage and, in the absence of regulation, it’s possible that fake Viagra pills don’t contain any of the active ingredient at all.

      Taking fake Viagra can lead to serious side effects, including visual problems, fainting, dangerous changes in blood pressure, and even heart problems. Essentially, if you take a counterfeit pill, you have no idea of what you’re exposing your body to.

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      Why is Viagra a prescription drug?

      Viagra is a prescription-only treatment partly to protect against this sort of misuse. Taking Viagra when you are unsuitable for treatment can result in significant side effects.

      The active ingredient in Viagra can also interact with other medications, so a clinician needs to assess your suitability before you take it. For example, you could pass out if you took Viagra alongside high blood pressure and prostate medications, and interactions with angina treatments and some prescription-only creams for haemorrhoids and anal fissures can be fatal.

      Since around 8 out of 10 ED cases are due to physical causes, such as heart disease and diabetes, the prescription barrier also helps protect men’s health in the long-term. The consultation process involved when obtaining Viagra can help shed light on serious health issues which need to be addressed. By addressing the cause, you may actually be able to reverse ED meaning you may not need medication in future.

      How to get Viagra without a doctor

      Obviously, men can always book an appointment with their local GP to obtain Viagra. However, as a highly sensitive health problem, many men with ED value the discretion online medical services provide and are keen to know how to get Viagra without a doctor.

      You should only ever use a reputable source when you want to buy generic Viagra online. Thankfully, there are several trustworthy and officially regulated online pharmacies providing safe, regulated Viagra.

      Always check for the following:

      • The website clearly displays the MHRA logo
      • The website displays the logos of reputable healthcare associations or regulators (e.g. the Care Quality Commission (CQC) and General Pharmaceutical Council)
      • The website is not full of stock images of over-friendly doctors in lab coats (we don’t wear these outside of a lab!)
      • Your medicine actually requires a prescription
      • The price for the drug is realistic

      If you are concerned about the cost of real Viagra, you might want to consider generic versions of the drug made by regulated pharmaceutical producers. Generic sildenafil contains the exact same ingredients as Viagra and works in exactly the same way – they can be sold slightly cheaper as they do not have to use the Pfizer brand name.

      For a full breakdown of regulations and medical credentials, read our article on obtaining medicines online.

      Viagra usage among young men

      Interestingly, a significant amount of black-market demand for Viagra comes from those who don’t medically need it.

      Whilst erectile dysfunction (ED) in young men is a very real phenomenon – 26% of young men are affected by it – it is understood that the black market is mainly used by young men who want to use Viagra recreationally. Many take it as a failsafe, giving them a psychological boost to help them perform, even though they don’t suffer from ED.

      Using Viagra in this way totally misunderstands the way it works. Viagra is a physically-focused treatment which aids blood flow to the penis – it will not be able to treat performance anxiety or any psychologically-based erectile problems. Erections themselves are the product of a complex set of processes, involving hormones and sexual desire; easing blood flow alone will not guarantee an erection. Over time, your body can actually build up a resistance to a particular Viagra dose. By starting a high dosage from a young age, you limit your future treatment options.

      What’s more, men who take Viagra without actually having ED run the risk of priapism, a long lasting painful erection, which can seriously damage their penis.

      References

      https://metro.co.uk/2019/02/25/fake-viagra-floods-uk-clubs-and-pubs-after-hitting-black-market-8735143/
      https://www.viagra.com/avoid-counterfeits
      https://patient.info/mens-health/erectile-dysfunction-impotence
      https://patient.info/news-and-features/erectile-dysfunction-impotence-in-young-men

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