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Fake Drugs Bought on the Web Pose Big Health Risks
Date:1/29/2010

2.5 million men in Europe alone may have taken counterfeit Viagra, study says

FRIDAY, Jan. 29 (HealthDay News) -- People who buy prescription medications over the Internet, especially drugs purporting to treat erectile dysfunction, are playing Russian roulette with their lives, a new study contends.

At best the drugs won't help you and at worst they could kill you, the review article said.

"You may be wasting your money or you may actually be hurting yourself," said Dr. Margaret E. Wierman, professor of medicine at the University of Colorado at Denver and chief of endocrinology at the Denver VA Medical Center, who was not involved with the study.

Counterfeit Internet drugs are a mushrooming problem. Seizures of fake drugs in Europe quadrupled between 2005 and 2007. And the number of investigations undertaken by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration increased by a factor of eight between 2000 and 2006, according to the study, published in the International Journal of Clinical Practice.

The sale of counterfeit drugs has almost doubled in the last five years, and will hit $75 billion in 2010, according to one estimate, making it one of the more lucrative illicit drug markets.

As many as 2.5 million men in Europe may have taken counterfeit sildenafil (Viagra), the study authors stated.

"It's a very significant problem and I think there are people who are being injured," said Dr. Ira D. Sharlip, a spokesman for the American Urological Association and clinical professor of urology at the University of California, San Francisco. "The only way to avoid the problem is not to buy on the Internet."

Viagra-like tablets bought on the Internet aren't necessarily any cheaper than the real thing, but they do allow buyers to avoid the shame factor often associated with asking for this type of drug.

"The motivation is the anonymity of buying drugs on the Internet. It's emba
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