Avoid medicine sold online: doctor

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Only 10 percent of men with erectile dysfunction seek medical help, with many attempting to treat the condition with pills purchased online, a physician said

  • By Yang Yuan-ting
    and William Hetherington / Staff reporter, with staff writer

A New Taipei City doctor has advised people to avoid purchasing medication on the Internet, citing a patient who had bought counterfeit pills for the treatment of erectile dysfunction.

Taiwanese Association of Andrology director Chen Yu (陳煜) said the patient, a 40-year-old man, had used the pills for three months without knowing they contained mostly starch.

About half of Taiwanese men above 40 have some degree of erectile dysfunction, Chen said.

Erectile dysfunction is categorized by severity, with those mildly afflicted being able to have intercourse, but not becoming fully erect, he said.

Those moderately afflicted might become partially erect, but are unable to engage in intercourse, while those with severe erectile dysfunction are completely unable to become erect, Chen added.

The rate of occurrence of erectile dysfunction in men under 40 is three times what it was five years ago, he said.

Erectile dysfunction worsens over time if not treated, and as many younger men are embarrassed about the problem and put off treatment, many of those under 40 that he treats already have advanced conditions, Chen said, adding that 5 percent of them have severe conditions.

Erectile dysfunction can be a sign of imminent heart disease, since it is often caused by blocked arteries, generally indicating circulatory problems, diabetes or other problems, association secretary-general Wu Chia-chang (吳佳璋) said.

More than 60 percent of men with erectile dysfunction develop heart disease within three years of seeking treatment for the condition, he said, adding that patients complain that many aspects of their lives, including work performance, suffer from the condition.

Citing research statistics, Wu said that only about 10 percent of men with erectile dysfunction seek treatment, with many attempting to treat the condition on their own with pills purchased on the Internet.

“Companies selling fake medicine see it as an opportunity, with many putting fake labels on their products to pass them off as real medicine,” he said.

Chen said he once treated a patient who had an erection that lasted several days after taking counterfeit medicine he bought on the Internet.

The patient was left with some permanent physical damage, he said.

Chen said he and his colleagues had sent a letter to the online retail platform that sold the counterfeit medicine, and had reported the company to the Food and Drug Administration.

However, as many firms making such products are located outside of Taiwan, which makes prosecution difficult, Chen advised people to exercise caution and not purchase medication online, but to seek treatment from a medical professional.

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