By Dr. Steven D. Rockoff
Special to the Sun-Gazette
In a recent study presented at the American Urological Association annual meeting in Atlanta, it was determined that Internet-marketed medication purporting to be a generic form of the phosphodiesterase-type No. 5 inhibitor Viagra (sildenafil citrate) is likely to be neither generic nor Viagra, but instead an expertly package mix of material such as paint, insecticides, rat poisons, boric acids and even gypsum.
There is no such thing as generic Viagra, as the patent for sildenafil still is in effect.
However, it has been illegally advertised as such all over the Internet. A recent Google search of the term "generic Viagra" yielded more than 50 million hits.
Counterfeit Viagra is readily available on the Internet, masquerading as a generic product and there is tremendous eagerness of consumers to acquire this inexpensive drug for recreational use and is becoming a growing health problem.
There are dangers with taking these non-FDA approved medications over the Internet. The agents produced and packaged may look exactly like their legitimate counterparts, but often are contaminated with health-threatening agents such as those mentioned, including boric acid and rat poison.
Serious illnesses have been reported from the use of these counterfeit agents. Erectile dysfunction can be a symptom of underlying diseases, such as severe peripheral vascular disease or a cardiac disease. If men continue to self-medicate with these generic, illegal, non-approved products, they will never seek help for their condition and these underlying conditions may remain undiagnosed.
Many of these pills contain lower doses of some of the active ingredients. The PDE-5 inhibitor such as Viagra are contraindicated in men taking nitroglycerine products. However, this is not included on the labeling.
In this study, it was determined that many of the drugs were made under horrible conditions. The drug has been found to be compounded in filth-encrusted bathrooms, basements and construction sites, where concrete mixers that churn plaster by the day are used to mix counterfeit drugs at night.
This study, whose data was acquired by Pfizer Global Securities, an entity created by the drug company to chase down and identify organizations marketing the phony agents, looked at Viagra purchases from 22 websites during four days in March 2011.
The pills ranged anywhere from $3.28 to as much as $33. The average prescription dose of Viagra costs around $20.
None of the websites required a prescription.
Postal origins of the pills included Hong Kong, United States, Canada, China and India.
Chemical analysis of the agents showed the vast majority, or 80 percent, of the pills were counterfeit. Fifteen percent were found to be authentic Pfizer products and 4 percent of the formulations close to the parent sildenafil molecule.
On spectral analysis, active pharmaceutical ingredients in the counterfeit medications range from 30 percent to 50 percent of that claimed on the packaging.
U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency has been unable thus far to resolve the problem of counterfeit drugs, which constitutes substantial and growing costs of the pharmaceutical industry.
Viagra is not the only drug counterfeited, but it is the one that attracts a lot of attention due to its recreational use.
Over-the-counter products claiming to enhance sexual male performance also may have small amounts of Viagra in them, and patients with cardiac disease who take nitroglycerine products may be at extreme risk taking these over-the-counter herbal products.
The paradox is that when you order Viagra online, you are not getting real sidenifil in 85 percent of the cases in its correct doses and maybe intaking rat poison and gypsum, which are agents you do not want in your body.
However, when you get herbal therapies, such as the Chinese herb horny goatweed, you actually would be getting small amounts of sildenafil that is not mentioned on the label so if you have heart disease or take nitrites, you could be at extreme risk.
Pfizer is posting several YouTube videos regarding counterfeit Viagra at youtube.com/user/viagra.
Also be warned if you are giving your credit card numbers, names, email addresses, phone numbers and a wealth of other personal information to individuals who are criminals selling counterfeit medication.
Rockoff is affiliated with Susquehanna Urologic Associates.