MHRA launches new #FakeMeds campaign in UK

The UK medicines regulator is warning people not to take a chance with fake medicines as it launches the next phase of its #FakeMeds campaign.

The latest campaign is focusing in particular on fake erectile dysfunction medicines sold online. Just-released Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) data reveal that 3.5m unlicensed erection pills, worth more than £10m ($13m), were seized in the UK just last year.

Erectile dysfunction is estimated to affect around one in five men in the UK, some 4.3m people, but 44 per cent of those aged over 40 have never sought medical help for the condition.

MHRA is concerned they may be buying fake products from rogue pharmacies online, rather than having an assessment from a healthcare professional. Fake medicines may not contain any active ingredients, or worse, may contain toxic ingredients which could lead to serious health consequences.

“Fake erectile dysfunction drugs might not give you the result you want or even make you ill,” commented Mark Jackson, MHRA’s head of enforcement. “Any medication bought from an unregistered website may be fake and will not meet quality and safety standards.”

The campaign is focusing on erectile dysfunction drugs even though it has been possible to purchase an over-the-counter version of Pfizer’s big-selling brand Viagra – called Viagra Connect – since 2018.

The OTC product costs around £20 for four tablets and requires a consultation with a pharmacist before dispensing as this type of drug can be dangerous for men with cardiovascular disease.

Previous phases of the campaign have focused on dodgy diet pills and fake self-testing STI kits.

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