A recent Korean study showed that buying erectile dysfunction medication online can pose serious health risks.
The Korean researchers presented their findings at the recent 105th Annual Scientific Meeting of the American Urological Association, according to ModernMedicine.com.
Dr. Kewon Min of Busan Paik Hospital in Busan, Korea, said it could be very dangerous to buy ED medication over the internet.
"A lot of patients order their drugs online these days, even when they have seen a physician and have a prescription," he said. "They think they can get quality ED drugs at good prices, but our results show that there can be major risks."
Min and his colleagues purchased 19 lots of two brand name ED medications from online pharmacies. Only one of those lots contained the correct amount of the active ingredient, while 58 percent of the tested pills contained 2.4 times the labeled dosage.
In addition, the researchers found 26 percent of the samples contained heavy metals or toxins.
Specifically they found dangerous levels of heavy metals such as mercury, lead, cadmium, arsenic and chrome, in addition to nonmetallic toxins like polychlorinated biphenyls and benzopyrenes.
The study also discovered that many of the samples contained erectogenic ingredients that had not been approved for use including homosildenafil, hongdenafil, aminotadalifil, xanthoanthrafil and pseudovardenafil.
Thirty-seven percent of the samples contained no active ingredient at all.
Min said the dangers posed by taking unapproved or counterfeit drugs could be catastrophic.
“What we know is that these counterfeit products are made under dirty, uncontrolled conditions,” he said. “Side effects from drug products purchased online, including death, have been documented worldwide.”
Kristina Lunner, vice president of government affairs at the American Pharmacists Association (APhA), said that people who purchase medications from illegal online pharmacies are putting themselves at risk in two ways.
"First, it removes prescribers and pharmacists, who by law are required to ensure that the patient is getting the right medication at the right time," she told the news source. "Second, it removes the regulations for manufacturers and distributors that work to ensure the integrity of the product. Removing these elements removes any assurance that the patient will get the benefit of the medication and will not be harmed by it."