Potency Medicines from Online Shops

Enforcement | 24/04/2018

Shopping on the internet offers, in addition to seemingly unlimited choices and convenient time savings, one thing above all: anonymity. In particular, "sensitive" goods, such as sexual enhancers or lifestyle products, are often purchased via Internet retailers to avoid supposedly embarrassing moments at the doctor's or pharmacy. However, this means that one's own health is often (unknowingly) put at an incalculable risk.

Internet Mailing Solution?

Potency agents or erectile stimulants contain so-called phosphodiesterase 5 (PDE-5) inhibitors, which influence the entire human circulation. Therefore, such products are subject to approval and prescription in Austria. This means that only authorised preparations may be supplied to holders of a medical prescription. The products must be sold in an Austrian pharmacy because distance selling of prescription-only preparations is not permitted in Austria. This is to ensure two things: Firstly, preparations with potentially severe side effects should not be taken without prior medical advice. Secondly, only original preparations from the legal distribution chain should reach the patients.

Especially in the case of sexual problems, visits to the doctor or pharmacy are often perceived as unpleasant or embarrassing. To avoid this, people turn to the internet: "Dr. Google" is quick with a diagnosis and the right products at hand. Everything happens anonymously, without prescription and apparently without any discernible risk. In addition to the well-known market-leading "original preparations", a range of alternative, "purely herbal" products is also offered at low prices. Too good to be true?

Dubious Composition

Analyses by the Official Medicines Control Laboratory (OMCL) of the AGES have shown that the majority of potency drugs obtained via the Internet do not contain what is suggested by their presentation (read more). In the case of supposedly "purely herbal" preparations, the analyses showed that these products usually contained one or more active substances which were not listed on the packaging. In the case of "original" branded products purchased cheaply online, the OMCL frequently found deviating active substance concentrations. The spectrum ranged from no active substances at all to inadmissibly high quantities of the active compounds. Ususally, those were counterfeit medicines which, however, imitated the original so well that the difference was not apparent to the consumer.

Furthermore, novel synthetic agents of the PDE-5 inhibitor-type were often identified in illegal erectile stimulants. These have not (yet) been tested in clinical trials, which is why their (side) effect profile is completely unknown. In addition, various counterfeit drugs purchased via the Internet have been contaminated with impurities such as inadmissible active compounds, drain cleaners or even rat droppings. It goes without saying that these contaminated products have to be generally classified as dangerous.

Risk Potential

For the reasons already mentioned, potency enhancers from the internet harbour unknown dangers, which the consumer is usually unable to assess. For example, impurities or new or unknown combinations of active substances can influence the effect of a preparation in an unpredictable way and can even be harmful. The same applies to the over- or wrong dosage of known PDE-5 inhibitors or new, still unexplored chemical derivatives of this substance group. Especially when taking other drugs regularly, it is essential to consult a doctor before using sexual enhancers in order to rule out harmful interactions.

Potency agents advertised as "purely herbal", which do however contain active substances contrary to their presentation, can be very dangerous in this context. These products appear to be a good solution for persons with contraindications to PDE-5 inhibitors. However, especially in these cases serious or critical side effects are very likely.

"Recommended" by Physicians

The Federal Office for Safety in Health Care became aware of the following facts in connection with the procurement of drugs from illegal Internet-based drug dealers:

  • During interrogations, purchasers of sexual enhancers stated that they had ordered the products upon advice from their physician or that they had even obtained this illegal product directly from their physician before they had ordered it online themselves.
  • In the course of administrative penal proceedings, which entail the purchase of prescription drugs from the internet, the Federal Office received written confirmations from attending physicians that the defendant absolutely needed the drugs in question.

In this context, the Federal Office for Safety in Health Care notes that:

  • A subsequent medical recommendation or confirmation does in no way exempt from punishment.
  • Physicians who issue prescriptions or confirmations for medicinal specialities not authorised in Austria may be (co-)guilty of an administrative offence.
  • The procurement of prescription-only pharmaceutical specialities via the internet is not permitted in Austria. If an internet pharmacy offers prescription drugs it must be assumed that it is an illegal online pharmacy.
  • The procurement of medicines from illegal internet-based pharmaceutical traders is self-endangerment. Neither a reliable active ingredient content can be guaranteed, nor can hazardous impurities or residues be excluded.

How to Protect Yourself

Various sites on the internet offer erection-promoting products at favourable prices, which can be obtained without a doctor's prescription. Many of these pages have the same structure (and can thus be recognized): All available products are listed in a sidebar. The range is usually limited to the "lucrative" product groups of sexual enhancers, painkillers and sleeping pills. Obvious spelling and grammar mistakes are common. An imprint is usually missing. The operators of such a website often refer to it as an "online pharmacy" in order to create a feeling of security among consumers. However, if the website does not contain a European distance selling logo (read more about distance selling), this is not a registered and therefore an illegal online pharmacy. In addition, registered online pharmacies are only permitted to sell over-the-counter medicines within or to Austria.

The only effective protection is not to obtain prescription medicines over the internet. Only individual, personal advice from a physician or pharmacist can ensure the correct use of the medicines in question and prevent hazardous effects to one's health.


Further inquiry note