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Men's Health

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Buying ED Drugs Online: What’s the Risk?

Health Risks of Online Drugs

Erectile dysfunction drugs such as Cialis, Levitra, Staxyn, Stendra, and Viagra work by increasing blood flow to the penis. Just like any other medicine, these drugs can have side effects.

A real drug masquerading as an herbal remedy can be dangerous -- even life-threatening. Take the drug sildenafil, which the FDA says is hidden in some natural ED treatments sold online; if you're already using nitrates for heart disease, sildenafil can lead to a dangerous drop in blood pressure. In 2008, 150 people in Singapore were hospitalized for low blood pressure after taking ED drugs. Doctors discovered that the drugs actually contained a large dose of the diabetes medicine, glyburide.

ED drugs can be especially dangerous for people with certain conditions, especially heart disease. They can also cause side effects or interact with other medicines you're taking, such as blood thinners and some alpha blockers, which are used to treat high blood pressure and prostate conditions. Even mixing them with grapefruit juice can worsen side effects. These are issues your doctor needs to discuss with you when you get a prescription.

Buying Safely Online

Before buying ED drugs online, see your doctor to find out exactly what's causing the problem. It may turn out that you don't need to take these drugs at all. Health conditions that contribute to ED, such as diabetes or high blood pressure, can be treated. If ED is a side effect of a medicine you're taking, your doctor may suggest that you stop taking the drug or take a lower dose.

The FDA is trying to stop the flow of illegal ED drugs, but these medicines still circulate freely on the Internet. Legitimate online pharmacies do exist. It just takes a little bit of sleuthing to find them.

Here’s what to look for when you buy ED drugs online:

  • A licensed pharmacy with an address in the U.S. (Check with your state board of pharmacy or the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy.)
  • A pharmacy that requires a prescription from your doctor
  • Drugs that are approved by the FDA
  • Containers that are clearly labeled with the name of the drug and the dosage
  • A licensed pharmacist who is available to answer your questions
  • A contact phone number to call if you have questions or problems
  • A clearly stated privacy policy that protects your credit card number and other personal information

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Stuart Bergman, MD on August 12, 2015
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