Erectile dysfunction drug use is under controversy. More than half of men over the age of 40 are said to be affected by erectile dysfunction (ED). However, according to insurance claim data presented at the 2013 meeting of the European Association of Urology, most Americans and Europeans with erectile dysfunction are untreated.
The first erectile dysfunction treatments used tend to be medications like Viagra, Cialis, and Levitra due to their convenience and ease of use. Some medical researchers indicate that the prevalence of ED treatment with these drugs is underreported because they are so easily available from the Internet and mail order sources. Be aware that obtaining medications from such sources is risky.
Multiple safety concerns have been linked to ED medication use without physician supervision. Erectile dysfunction can be a sign of cardiovascular disease. It is important that physicians know the true prevalence of erectile dysfunction treatment. Interactions between ED drugs and other medications (including nitrates and some medications used in the management of BPH) or health conditions (e.g., significant heart, kidney, or liver disease) can result in permanent harm or even be life-threatening.
Erectile dysfunction medications are among the most adulterated and counterfeited of all medications.
A four-year assessment of illegally sold “Viagra” by the Dutch National Institute for Public Health and Environment found only 10 genuine samples out of 370. Additional concerns regarding the use of unregulated erectile dysfunction medications include the amounts of active ingredients and the adulteration products with untested, active ingredients that have no defined safety profiles.
An Internet survey regarding the prevalence of erectile dysfunction treatment involving 11,889 patients was conducted in Italy, Germany, and the UK. It found that an estimated 30% ED medication users obtained the drugs without consulting with a physician or pharmacist. This was typically done via the Internet, significant others, friends, or assorted acquaintances. Patients who were most likely to have consulted with a doctor or pharmacist within the previous six months tended to be older and to have more severe erectile dysfunction. Consultation tended to result in getting medication from legitimate pharmacies or physician samples, and in more frequent use of the medications obtained.
The most common reasons men did not consult their doctors were embarrassment about talking about erectile dysfunction and the desire to obtain the ED medications in larger quantities and at cheaper prices. Interestingly, significant numbers of those who obtained ED medicines outside of the healthcare system did so despite believing that medicines sold via the Internet were less safe.
Read more in our Erectile Dysfunction Health Center.
Cakir O et al. The frequencies and characteristics of men receiving medical intervention for erectile dysfunction: Analysis of 6.2 million patients. Abstract Nr: 126; 28th Annual EAU Congress, 15 to 19 March 2013; Milan, Italy.
Schnetzler G et al. Characteristics, behaviors, and attitudes of men bypassing the healthcare system when obtaining phosphodiesterase type 5 inhibitors. The Journal of Sexual Medicine 2010; 7:1237–1246.