Blue Pill Pirates: How Regulators and Industry are Working to Reduce Online Fraud



Gerald Clarke
05/23/2013

Anyone with an email account is likely to be unfortunate enough to have received an email promising male sexual enhancement pills online for low prices. Likely they are full of spelling mistakes and fabrications and it turns out (to the surprise of no one), the content of these pills is just as unreliable.

The FDA has released notices in the last month warning against the use of Lightning ROD “when lightning strikes… be ready!” VicereX “an experience that’s hard to beat” and Bullet Proof “you will never miss your target” male sexual enhancement pills because all 3 of these contain undeclared ingredients. The packaging of these pills listed only ingredients which are ‘natural’ and mostly plant based with VicereX going so far as to boast about their “All Natural and Safe Formula!” However if these pills had any effects, they were probably due to their undeclared ingredients with Bullet Proof and VicereX containing tadalfil, the active ingredient in Cialis and Lightning Rod containing hydroxythiohomosildenafil which is similar to sildenafil, an ingredient in Viagra. These alerts are the latest in a series of such alerts, (products including SexVoltz, Amerect, Night Bullet and ROCK-IT-MAN) trying to raise awareness that these pills may be unsafe.

These undeclared ingredients may be present in high levels and may effect with other drugs such as nitrates. This could cause side effects like lowering blood pressure to dangerous levels and so anyone who has bought these pills is advised to throw them away.

The FDA states in their releases that dietary supplements and similar products “are typically promoted for sexual enhancement, weight loss, and body building, and are often represented as being “all natural.”  FDA is unable to test and identify all products marketed as dietary supplements on the market that have potentially harmful hidden ingredients.” This warning says much about the growing online market for counterfeit, falsified and alternative medicines. The regulators wouldn’t be able to keep up and so have changed tactics to try to make examples of these products in the hope of educating the public of the dangers in buying them.

The EU has also moved to combat the selling of falsified medicines on the internet, introducing a ‘trust mark’ within the Falsified Medicines Directive which will be displayed on certain websites to show that they are trusted vendors of genuine pharmaceuticals.

In the film and music industries, one of the most powerful ways to reduce piracy is to produce a viable alternative. In regions where the online movie streaming service Netflix has been introduced, piracy has dropped. In a move which they hope will replicate this success, Pfizer has launched Viagra.com in order to sell their famous blue pill over the internet. It is hoped that lowering barriers to access (physical/financial/embarrassment) will encourage patients to opt for the real pill which already has huge brand recognition.

The problem of selling drugs over the internet is probably going to get worse before it gets better, however with regulators and industry both working together with innovative strategies then perhaps it will indeed get better.