Researchers from the UK, Sweden and the US have established that using drugs purchased from the internet can kill and cause patients to bypass health systems that could diagnose life-threatening problems. They estimate that 90% of counterfeit drugs are sold via the internet, which has spawned global sales of over $75 billion, sales which have increased 92% in the last 5 years.
The findings are set out in an article in the International Journal of Clinical Practice. The researchers reviewed over 50 studies published since 1995. The data particularly focused on erectile dysfunction medication, and showed the over 44% of these drugs were fake. The consequences were dire for some, including 150 men admitted to hospitals after taking counterfeit tadalafil and herbal preparations that claimed to cure the dysfunction. Seven were comatose and four subsequently died. Two pregnant women died after being given injections of a counterfeit iron preparation for anemia. Fifty-one children died of kidney failure after taking paracetamol syrup contaminated with glycol, an antifreeze used in cars.
We have previously reported on the problem of herbal preparations being spiked with prescription medications here, here, here, here and here.
Jackson et al. Counterfeit phosphodiesterase type 5 inhibitors pose significant safety risks. International Journal of Clinical Practice, 2010