Internet ED drugs not worth the risk
Updated: April 11, 2012 4:40PM
Thanks to the endless advertising by pharmaceutical companies, the public discussion of erectile dysfunction has come out of the woodwork.
But now that the taboo surrounding it has been broken, it seems like everyone wants a piece of this very expensive pie and the consumer is getting stuck with a very big bill.
Before you start diagnosing and medicating yourself for erectile dysfunction, make a stop at your doctor’s office. Your doctor treats many men for erectile dysfunction because a lot have it, roughly 30 million men in the United States alone, according to the National Institutes of Health.
The cost of the office visit is well worth it. In one study, nearly 70 percent of men who experienced erectile dysfunction later experienced angina or chest pain from heart disease. For them, erectile dysfunction was an early warning sign of their coronary artery disease; and only your doctor can determine your risk for heart disease and stroke.
Getting and maintaining an erection is a complex process. Many different body systems and structures play a part; and your doctor can make sure things such as your weight, thyroid problems or testosterone levels are not part of your issue. A recent study noted an improvement of erectile dysfunction when overweight men lost just 5 to 10 percent of their body weight.
While the three common drugs: Viagra, Cialis and Levitra are about $10 per pill, lifestyle changes are free.
Because medications are expensive and are likely to remain so until the pharmaceutical patents expire in 2017-19, there are lots of people ready to hoodwink you. Estimates place the proportion of counterfeit medications sold over the Internet from 44 percent to 90 percent, according to the International Journal of Clinical Practice. The counterfeit medications look like the real thing, but only through complicated testing can the actual contents of the pill be determined.
One analysis of counterfeit erectile dysfunction medications found doses of the active drug ranged from 0 to 200 percent! Anyone taking those pills was either getting twice the recommended dose or nothing. For some people, nothing is lucky. Four men in Singapore died when their counterfeit medicine turned out to be full of a drug for diabetes, according to an article in the New England Journal of Medicine. For individuals concerned about this, check out the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy for a listing of safe online pharmacies.
Another concern is the herbal supplement market. Please be aware the U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not regulate it. A 1994 law made it so the FDA only has to investigate a vitamin, mineral or supplement if it is proven to be unsafe, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It does not check to make sure the product actually works.
Before you spend your money on an unproven, unregulated, possibly counterfeit and maybe even unnecessary product, talk with your doctor.
Colleen Kordish is a registered nurse and cardiovascular outcomes coordinator at Advocate Good Samaritan Hospital.