South Africans are among the biggest consumers of black market aphrodisiacs, according to the pharmaceutical company Pharma Dynamics.
Over the past 12 months, the South African Revenue Service (Sars) confiscated 207 882 pills with an estimated total value of R21-million. This excludes 40 000 Viagra tablets found by customs officials at the Johannesburg International Mail Centre on Monday. The pills were in two boxes sent from Hong Kong and the packages were falsely labelled as plastic toys, said Sars.
Male sexual enhancement pills are considered to be one of the most counterfeited drugs in the world. Wider access to the internet has led to the growth of “online pharmacies” and an increase in the trade of counterfeit medication which the WHO said “poses a growing threat to public health around the world”.
Severe side effects
According to Pharma Dynamics, most male enhancement pills are ordered online from websites in India, Malawi, the UK and Hong Kong, and go by explicit names such as Rock Hard, Mojo Nights, Lightning Rod, Black Mamba and Bullet Proof.
The WHO warns that both branded and generic drugs can be counterfeited and “counterfeit medicines may include products with the correct ingredients but fake packaging, with the wrong ingredients, without active ingredients or with insufficient active ingredients”. These products cause severe side effects such as therapeutic failure, drug resistance, and, “in many cases it can lead to death”.
But despite the associated risks, many South Africans continue to buy medication over the internet.
“The problem is twofold,” said Pharma Dynamics spokesperson Tumi Motsei. “Firstly, people are offered erectile dysfunction drugs at a fraction of the price that they sell them for at licensed pharmacies and secondly, it’s a condition which men are often too embarrassed to discuss with their doctor. Counterfeit drug manufacturers take advantage of this vulnerability by making their products available without prescription. This then allows men to access prescription medication without seeking appropriate medical advice.”