A Comprehensive Guide to Buying Viagra Online

Internet shoppers have been lured into buying Viagra® online by low prices, easy access and confidentiality. 

In many cases, the drug can be ordered without the need for a doctor's visit or a face-to-face physical examination, saving time, money and potential embarrassment.

This year it's estimated that consumers will spend over $20 billion on prescription drugs bought from e-pharmacies. 

While many men will buy Viagra online from legitimate Internet pharmacies, a large number will purchase the medication and other prescription impotence pills where the only requirement is a credit card.

Bill Livingstone, director of studies and analysis at GlobalOptions, a risk management company that recently reported on the dangers of online pharmacies, said: 

"The Internet makes it possible for anybody to get any drug at any time. That's a scary thing."

It's easy to get ripped off when buying prescription medications online, so what are the risks to consider?

Purchasing Viagra Without a Prescription

A vast number of websites offer impotence meds with no prescription required. The availability of drugs from online pharmacies without the need for any formal diagnosis is alarming. Self-diagnosis places the purchaser at risk of drug interactions, incorrect dosage and allergic reactions.

Viagra Manufactured Overseas

Last year U.S. consumers spent an estimated $1.4 billion on prescription drugs from foreign Internet sites.When buying Viagra online, it's often impossible to tell where the website is based and where the drug is manufactured. Prescription medications ordered from what appear to be US-based sites have been known to be distributed by suppliers in Mexico, Spain, Barbados, Thailand, India, China and Fiji.

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Prescription medications manufactured in the U.S. are governed by very strict pharmaceutical guidelines. However, the same can't be said for countries outside the US. And if the Viagra is processed illegally, there are no guarantees whatsoever that the product you are purchasing is the "real thing".

Unwary purchasers can end up with medication made in garages, basements, and warehouses that are substandard. In the unregulated and often unsanitary conditions of these illegal drug laboratories, the drug's calibrations can easily be incorrect, meaning the buyer may get a lot more - or a lot less - than they bargained for.

Buying Fake ED Medications Online

Most of the sites advertising Viagra promote it as the genuine product but there is no sure way of knowing what you're getting, or where you're getting it from.

Orders of Viagra have been known to arrive in unlabeled plastic bags and even loose in mailing envelopes. One batch of Viagra reported to authorities was received in a box with the easily recognizable little blue diamond-shaped pill bearing the correct logo. However, it was discovered to have been made in a factory in China, and the active ingredient, sildenafil citrate was only evident in trace amounts.

Fake Viagra has been found to contain sugar and starch as filler. U.S. Customs and Border Protection reports that some counterfeit drugs contain boric acid, lead-based paint and even cement.

Other Risks in Buying Viagra Online

Investigators receive numerous reports of Viagra ordered online that never arrives at its destination. There is no guarantee when purchasing the impotence drug via an e-pharmacy that you will receive your order at all. And in most cases, there's very little that can be done about it. Tracing e-pharmacies back to their business source has proved almost impossible in some cases for law enforcement agencies. Particularly when dealing with rogue sites. 

Many sites advertising "cheap Viagra" charge hefty consultation fees and vastly inflated shipping costs. Purchasing from offshore e-pharmacies also poses the risk of being duped by outrageous exchange rates when overseas currencies are converted back to U.S. dollars.

How to Avoid the Risks When Purchasing Medications Via The Internet

If you choose to purchase Viagra online, there are precautions you can take to ensure safe delivery of the correct drug.

  1. The NABP gives its seal of approval to most e-pharmacies that are U.S. based and meet rigorous licensing and inspection guidelines.
  2. If you live outside the U.S., check with the Government regulated Pharmacy Board or Authority to determine if the e-pharmacy is registered under the statutory requirements in your country.
  3. U.S. residents often use Canadian-based e-pharmacies believing that the products offered online are cheaper than U.S. prices. However, this practice is considered controversial and violates the Federal Food Drug and Cosmetic Act in many states.
  4. A recent investigation of 432 Internet sites listing "Canada" or "Canadian" and a reference to prescription drugs found that more than half were located outside Canada. Consumer complaints have been received by the FDA about supposedly Canadian sites where the drugs have been delivered from overseas locations such as India and Pakistan.

As the e-pharmacy market grows, so does the opportunity for unscrupulous operators to join the field. However, the government, FDA, major pharmaceutical companies and even some of the e-pharmacies are attempting to implement policies to make drug shopping online safer for everyone.

A Good Starting Point

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