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Keywords:

  • Counterfeit Drugs;
  • Erectile Dysfunction;
  • Phosphodiesterase Type 5 Inhibitor;
  • Internet;
  • Sildenafil;
  • Tadalafil;
  • Vardenafil;
  • Unapproved Medicines;
  • Illicit Drugs;
  • E-Medicine

ABSTRACT

Introduction.  Men may choose to bypass the healthcare system to obtain a phosphodiesterase type 5 inhibitor (PDE5i).

Aim.  Evaluate the characteristics and purchasing patterns of men obtaining a PDE5i without prior healthcare professional (HCP) interaction.

Main Outcome Measures.  Prior HCP interaction, defined as having a prescription for any PDE5i, having a PDE5i sample from a physician, or buying the PDE5i in a retail pharmacy; and erectile dysfunction (ED, the Massachusetts Male Aging Study single-item question) were assessed. A multivariate regression analysis determined predictive factors for PDE5i purchase without prior HCP interaction.

Methods.  A Web-based observational study was conducted in the United Kingdom, Germany, and Italy.

Results.  Of the 11,899 participants, 1,252 (10.5% [95% CI, 10.0–11.1%]) reported PDE5i use in the last 6 months. PDE5is were obtained without prior HCP interaction by 403 users (32.3% [95% CI, 29.6–34.8%]); 65.5% of them had ED. Overall prevalence of men using PDE5is without HCP interaction was 3.0% (95% CI, 2.6–3.5%), 4.1% (95% CI, 3.5–4.6%), and 2.8% (95% CI, 2.1–3.5%) for men aged 18–34, 35–50, and >50 years, respectively (P = 0.0045). Predictive factors for obtaining a PDE5i without prior HCP interaction were embarrassment to speak to a physician (P = 0.0009) and the perception that this would be the cheapest way to get the medicine (P = 0.03).

Conclusions.  Based on these findings, it can be estimated that approximately 6 million men in Europe might currently bypass the healthcare system to obtain a PDE5i. In addition to the risks associated with use of PDE5is from uncontrolled sources, because most of these men have ED, they also miss the opportunity for important health information or medical follow-up. HCPs should actively address ED and offer treatment to discourage men from seeking uncontrolled sources of ED medicines. Schnetzler G, Banks I, Kirby M, Zou KH, and Symonds T. Characteristics, behaviors, and attitudes of men bypassing the healthcare system when obtaining phosphodiesterase type 5 inhibitors. J Sex Med 2010;7:1237–1246.