Two in three men suffering from erectile dysfunction in South Korea have taken counterfeit impotence pills, with those in their 20s being the biggest customers, a study showed Sunday.
All the pills illegally being sold online and off-line without a prescription as of May were counterfeit and not confirmed to be safe, according to the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety.
According to a poll of 1,500 men who have taken medication to treat their erectile dysfunction, 1,015 people, or 67.7 percent of the surveyed, said they had obtained the pills illegally without a prescription.
Of the 1,015 people who illegally purchased the pills, 67.6 percent said that they could “easily” access the drugs. Nearly 20 percent said they were reluctant to go to hospitals to obtain a prescription to treat impotence.
In Korea, medications to treat erectile dysfunction, including Viagra and Cialis, can only be purchased with a valid prescription from a doctor due to safety issues.
Led by the Korea Institute of Drug Safety & Risk Management, the survey is based on telephone interviews conducted from May to July in 2013 with 1,500 adults throughout the nation.
The younger generation was more likely to seek fake erectile dysfunction pills, according to the poll.
Those in their 20s and 30s respectively had experience with fake Viagra pills three and two times more than men in their 60s, the study showed without revealing exact numbers.
Asked how the men accessed the pills, eight in 10 people said they obtained the drugs through a friend. About 8 percent of the respondents said they bought them online and 7.4 percent from sex shops.
The survey also showed that six of 10 men suffering from side effects of the impotence pills were found to have taken counterfeit drugs, raising concerns over the safety of cheap fake medication for impotence.
The fake drugs were found to contain excessive doses of sildenafil or tadalafil, which can heighten risks for heart attack and myocardial infarction.
Despite safety concerns, Korea has seen a growing amount of counterfeit drugs for impotence smuggled in from China.
The National Tax Service detected 1,443 cases of smuggled impotence medicine worth 584 billion won ($500 million) in total from 2010 to 2014, hitting an all-time high last year with 668 cases.
The study was published in the latest journal for Korean College of Clinical Pharmacy.
By Ock Hyun-ju (email@example.com