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The dangers of fake Viagra

Aysha

Medically reviewed on November 5, 2019

by Dr. Aysha Butt, Medical director

Dr. Aysha Butt is the Medical Director of FromMars, and is a GP Partner at Woodcote NHS Medical Practice.... read more

Thinking about trying Viagra, but don’t want all the fuss of seeing a doctor first? Maybe you’ve searched online and found out you can order Viagra cheaply and without a prescription? Perfect, right?

Unfortunately not. Some things are too good to be true. These sites are most likely selling fake Viagra, something which can be really dangerous. Here we’ll explain why.

What is fake Viagra?

Genuine Viagra is a drug used to treat erectile dysfunction (ED) made by the company Pfizer. Fake Viagra might look like real Viagra pills, and will be claimed to be made by Pfizer. Don’t believe it. Fake Viagra can be made by enterprising individuals, criminal gangs, and foreign companies who don’t have the right to sell drugs in the UK.

It might look like the real deal, but it’s what’s inside that counts, and here they can be very different from the genuine product. The active drug in Viagra is called sildenafil, and studies of fake Viagra found the amount of this in them varied widely. Some pills contained none at all, others contained over 200% the claimed dose, and only 10% of the pills examined were within 10% of the dose claimed on the packaging. To make matters worse, the fake drugs can be mixed with other substances too, with one study finding paint, printer ink, talcum powder, amphetamines, and a strong fungal medication in fake Viagra pills.

Counterfeit Viagra might sound like a small issue, something that a couple of dodgy websites are selling online, but fake Viagra is big business. Viagra is the fastest-selling medication in history, and illegal drug dealers are keen to get in on the action. The MHRA recently published new figures showing that 3.5 million unlicensed ED pills were seized in the UK in 2019 and were estimated to be worth more than £10 million. 

What is Kamagra?

Kamagra is an ED drug like Viagra which is made in India but often sold in the UK online. Unlike Viagra, and other ED drugs like Levitra and Cialis, Kamagra is not licensed for sale in the UK. It hasn’t gone through the same safety tests as Viagra which means buying it online in the UK is illegal. Kamagra can often be counterfeit too, and if a website is willing to sell you Kamagra illegally in the UK, then there’s a good chance they’re willing to sell you a fake version of the drug too. So that’s two good reasons to steer clear of Kamagra if you live in the UK.

Why do people buy fake Viagra?

Some people buy fake Viagra because they genuinely have erectile dysfunction, and they feel embarrassed seeing a doctor about it, and/or they appreciate the ease and low price of buying fake Viagra online.

But fake Viagra is also bought by recreational users. That’s people who don’t have erectile dysfunction, or rarely have it, who want to take the occasional pill to offset the effects of too much alcohol, drugs, or to deal with performance anxiety. Some recreational users who never have ED take fake Viagra because they think it’ll boost their sex drive, make them last longer, or even because they believe Viagra will make their penis bigger. However these are all myths.

If you don’t have erectile dysfunction, then you shouldn’t take Viagra, and you definitely shouldn’t take fake Viagra. If you do have ED and you feel too embarrassed to talk to a doctor face-to-face about it, then don’t resort to buying counterfeit Viagra online. You have options. FROM MARS is a registered UK pharmacy and our doctors can prescribe you medically proven erectile dysfunction treatments including genuine sildenafil and Viagra. Simply fill out our online form, and our doctors will determine if a treatment is suitable for you. There's no need to book an appointment, and no awkward meetings with your doctor.

What can fake Viagra do to you?

If you take fake Viagra, you’re gambling with your health. Counterfeit drugs can cause serious harm and can even kill you. Here’s why:

Firstly, Viagra is a prescription drug. This means it can only be bought after you’ve had a consultation with a health professional who can make prescriptions. Viagra can have side effects, it can interact with other medications, and it isn’t for everyone. For instance, Viagra shouldn’t be used by men who have inherited eye diseases or who are taking nitrate medications. A health professional needs to assess your health and your circumstances to make sure Viagra is the right drug for you. If you skip this step and buy Viagra without a prescription you’re missing out on their expertise, and you could be putting yourself at risk without even realising it.

Secondly, you can’t be sure how much of the active drug you’re buying. As we already mentioned, in one study only 10% of counterfeit Viagra pills were within 10% of the dose claimed on the pack. You might be buying pills with little or no sildenafil in them, or worse, you could be buying pills with too much, meaning you’re more likely to experience the more serious side effects of Viagra.

And finally, as we’ve also mentioned, you don’t know what else is in the fake pills. You could be swallowing anything from paint, to other prescription medications, and even illegal drugs like amphetamines. If you take fake Viagra, you really have no idea what you’re putting into your body and could experience very serious fake Viagra side effects.

How to spot fake Viagra pills?

What does fake Viagra look like? Sometimes counterfeit Viagra pills look different enough from real Viagra for you to see the difference. The shade of blue might be wrong, or the Pfizer logo might not be on the pills. But sometimes the fake pills look so close to the real deal you can’t see the difference. So how do you tell?

The simple answer is, without testing them in a lab, you can’t. The only way you can guarantee you have real Viagra is by only buying it from licensed, legal retailers. That means not from drug dealers, from friends, or from websites that don’t have the ability to issue prescriptions.

Buying genuine Viagra safely

You’ve got a few options if you want to buy genuine Viagra legally:

Can you buy Viagra over the counter?

You can now buy a version of Viagra, called Viagra Connect, from pharmacies in the UK without a prescription. You’ll have to answer a short questionnaire in the pharmacy, but if your answers are approved, you can buy the drug there and then.

Being assessed by a health professional

Although you can buy Viagra Connect over the counter, if you opt for a prescription, you get the benefit of being assessed by an experienced health professional, as well more options on the dosage. They may even suggest an alternative drug.

Viagra Connect only comes in one strength (50mg), whereas regular Viagra can be bought in three doses, 25mg, 50mg, and 100mg, which gives you more options. Also, Viagra is only one of a number of ED meds. Other options include Cialis and Levitra. Our doctors may decide one of these is more suitable for you.

#FakeMeds

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) is helping you protect your health and money by providing quick and easy tools so you can avoid fake medical products when you shop online. Visit the #FakeMeds website for information on registered pharmacies and tips on how to spot fake medicines.

Ordering Viagra safely online FROM MARS

You can order Viagra, and other ED meds like Levitra and Cialis, online safely and legally from us at FROM MARS, as we are a registered UK pharmacy and can prescribe these medications for you, without the need for any embarrassing face to face doctor's appointments. 

Buying Viagra and other ED meds cheaply online or from local dealers can be convenient, but is it really worth it? Chances are the pills will be fake, and at best they’ll do nothing, but at worst they could be dangerous. If you do want to try ED meds, make sure you buy the genuine product.