Buying ED Drugs Online: What’s the Risk?

If you search "buy erectile dysfunction drugs" online, you'll bring up nearly 22 million web sites. You may find well-known ED drugs for sale, as well as many "natural" remedies that promise to give you the same results.

Are they safe to buy? Experts say think twice before you purchase online.

Risks of Online ED Drugs

The ED drugs and herbal remedies you buy on the internet aren't always what they seem. An FDA investigation found that more than one-third of "dietary supplements" sold for ED actually contained prescription drugs, including sildenafil, the medicine in Viagra.

Some ED drugs sold online contained entirely different medicines, such as the antibiotic metronidazole and the fertility drug clomiphene.

Even if a drug contains the right medicine, it may not be the right dose. When samples of 100-milligram Viagra tablets purchased online were tested, only 10% were even close to the advertised strength.

When you buy from an unknown company, you run the risk of getting counterfeit medicines. By some estimates, more than half of all ED drugs sold online are fakes. Some of these drugs include ingredients you wouldn't want to put in your body -- things like talcum powder, paint, and printer ink.

The FDA warns of a number of products that have contained potentially harmful ingredients or compounds that aren't mentioned on the label. Among them are:

  • 4EVERON
  • Actra-Rx
  • Actra-Sx
  • Adam Free
  • Blue Steel
  • Energy Max
  • Erextra
  • Hero
  • HS Joy of Love
  • Lady Shangai
  • Libidus
  • Liviro3
  • Lycium Barbarum L.
  • Nasutra
  • Naturalë Super Plus
  • NaturalUp
  • Neophase
  • Rhino V Max
  • Shangai Regular, also marketed as Shangai Chaojimengnan
  • Shangai Ultra
  • Shangai Ultra X
  • Strong Testis
  • Super Shangai
  • True Man
  • V.Max
  • Vigor-25
  • Xiadafil VIP tablets (Lots 6K029 and 6K209-SEI only)
  • Yilishen
  • Zimaxx

Health Concerns

Erectile dysfunction drugs that are approved by the FDA work by increasing blood flow to the penis. Just like any other medicine, these drugs can have side effects. If you purchase them online -- without a prescription -- you won't get a chance to discuss this with your doctor before you take them.

ED drugs can also be dangerous if you have certain conditions, like heart disease. They can interact with other medicines you take, 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 talk to you about during an office visit before he prescribes the medicine.

If you buy an "herbal remedy" online that turns out to contain ingredients from real ED drugs, you could also put your health at risk. For example, if sildenafil is hidden in natural ED treatments, you could run into trouble if you use nitrates for heart disease. The combo can lead to a dangerous drop in blood pressure.

Continued

Buying Safely Online

Before buying ED drugs on the internet, 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.

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 using the drug or take a lower dose.

The FDA is trying to stop the flow of illegal ED drugs, but these medicines still show up on the internet. Legitimate online pharmacies do exist. It just takes a little bit of work 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 asks for 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 dose
  • A licensed pharmacist who is available to answer your questions
  • Phone number to call if you have questions or problems
  • Clearly stated privacy policy that protects your credit card number and other personal information
WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Neha Pathak, MD on November 25, 2017

Sources

SOURCES:

FDA: "Hidden Risks of Erectile Dysfunction 'Treatments' Sold Online," "The Possible Dangers of Buying Medicines over the Internet." 

National Kidney & Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse: "Erectile Dysfunction." 

American Academy of Family Physicians: "Erectile Dysfunction -- Overview."

Jackson, G. International Journal of Clinical Practice, March 2010. 

Bulletin of the World Health Organization, April 2010. 

© 2017 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.

Pagination