As a person ages, health problems become increasingly common and among the ailments some men can expect to suffer from is erectile dysfunction. Instead of seeking treatment from a medical professional, some men may resort to buying drugs off the Internet or from street peddlers in an effort to remedy the problem. This is a dangerous practice, however, that may cause a host of life threatening conditions including the risk of a stroke, low blood pressure or heart attack.
Why are illegal or unlicensed products dangerous?
Before a drug is released into the market for sale, it undergoes a thorough process of evaluation to ensure that it meets the required standard, and that the benefit of treatment outweighs the risk of any side effects.
In Singapore, the medication used to treat erectile dysfunction is available only by prescription as the compounds used in the drugs are potent and potentially harmful if used incorrectly.
The products purchased from online sources and back-alley dealers are usually of dubious origin. The composition of such drugs, their authenticity, efficacy and quality are highly questionable and pose a significant health risk.
Case study - Stroke and paralysis from illegal drug consumption
In May 2008 a non-diabetic 73 year old male was found unconscious by his family members. He was sent to hospital where they found his blood sugar level to be at a dangerously low level. In addition he was suffering from high blood pressure. This caused him to suffer a stroke that left him paralysed on one side of his body.
Upon further investigation, his family found the illegally obtained sexual enhancement drug "中华牛鞭" (Zhong Hua Niu Bian) in his drawer and also reported that he had been making calls to obtain the illegal pills. The pills were found to contain the potent prescription drugs - Glibenclamide, used in the treatment of diabetes; and Sildenafil, a prescription drug used to treat erectile dysfunction.
Case study - Heart attack and stroke caused by illegal medication
The Health Sciences Authority reported in August 2013 that a male in his 40s was found unconscious after suffering a heart attack and stroke from consuming ‘Li Long Mei Guo Mo Bang’ (力龙美国魔棒). In another instance, a man in his 50s was hospitalised for chest pains and shortness of breath after consuming “Africa Black Ant” purchased from a street peddler. The two products were promoted as complementary health products for the enhancement of sexual pleasure but both were found to contain Sildenafil.
What to do if you suffer from erectile dysfunction
Arming yourself with the necessary knowledge and exercising common sense is the first step in combatting the problem. The next is to seek professional medical advice and avoid unlicensed or back-alley dealers at all cost.
#1 - Avoid dubious medical cures from unknown sources
Counterfeit and adulterated medicine may have names and appearances that are similar to those sold in clinics and pharmacies. They are however from unknown sources, and are likely to have poor quality control during the manufacturing process. They may contain inappropriate compounds, or dosages of compounds, which can be extremely dangerous to consume.
#2 - Beware of deals that seem too good to be true
Many illegal products attract customers by charging a price that is much lower than the genuine items. If it seems too good to be true, then it probably is. Always buy your medication from registered clinics and pharmacies.
#3 - Don’t be fooled by the claims
Unscrupulous sellers of illegal products have several strategies to give their products the appearance of effectiveness.
- ‘Scientific’ claims - Some products may cite scientific studies as evidence of their efficacy. Others go as far as referencing medical journals that have published research papers on the drugs. These studies can be misleading and taken out of context. Always consult your doctor or pharmacist, or check the Health Sciences Authority website for a list of registered and approved products.
- ‘100% safe’ or ‘100% natural’ claims - No product is completely free of risk. Products claiming to be ‘herbal’ or ‘natural’ have also been found to contain potent medicinal ingredients.
- ‘Miracle’ claims - Be wary of products that promise fast results with little cost or effort. The shortcuts may be extremely hazardous to your health.
- ‘Personal success’ claims - Gimmicks such as personal testimonials and success stories are often employed by sellers. These stories may be misleading, or even completely falsified.
#4 - See your doctor!
Medical professionals see a wide range of conditions everyday. Seeking professional advice is your best and safest bet when dealing with health issues.