Online Viagra service offers drug without GP visitSexual health site diagnoses erectile dysfunction

30 September 2008

A packet of pills

Men can buy Viagra online without visiting their GP using a new service from Lloydspharmacy and sexual health website DrThom.

Lloydspharmacy and DrThom have teamed up to prescribe Viagra and other erectile dysfunction drugs to men diagnosed after filling in an online consultation questionnaire.

The service hopes to prevent men buying medicines from unregulated websites where they risk receiving inappropriate or fake medicines that contain little or no active ingredients.

Ongoing treatment

A GP from DrThom analyses online consultation questionnaires and diagnoses erectile problems before issuing an electronic prescription to Lloydspharmacy.

Eligible patients will be given a trial course of up to eight tablets at a cost of £45 per four tablets. The service will offer the erectile dysfunction drugs Viagra, Levitra and Cialis.

Erectile dysfunction sufferers will also be given the option of ongoing treatment, with the ability to order up to 16 tablets at a time.

Fake drugs

Andy Murdock, pharmacy director of Lloydspharmacy, said the move would help counter the number of fake drugs from overseas being sold on the internet.

He said: 'Many men turn to the internet for erectile dysfunction medication.

'We hope this new service will give men the confidence to use the internet for erectile dysfunction treatments, safe in the knowledge that they will be receiving genuine drugs from a reliable source.'

Limited NHS availability

Not all men can get drugs for erectile dysfunction on the NHS and research suggests only around half of those who suffer do so.

People with conditions such as diabetes, prostate cancer and multiple sclerosis can access treatment on the NHS, and so can those suffering severe distress.

The drugs are known to have side-effects, including lowering or raising blood pressure, headaches and indigestion.

Which? advice - buying drugs online

When Which? conducted research in 2000 into online services offering erectile dysfunction drugs such as Viagra, we found that some websites failed to properly check information given in consultation questionnaires.

To ensure you receive safe and legal medication when shopping online, follow these tips: 

  • Choose a UK-based website that is registered with the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) and displays the organisations logo online.  The logo clicks through to the RPS website so you can check its legitimate.
  • Ensure that there's a 'bricks and motor' pharmacy behind the website.
  • Check whether the site has safeguards, such as encryption, to make it secure.
  • Ensure hat the site has a contact address and telephone number in case of any problems - not just as email address.
  • Avoid any online consultation that doesn't take a thorough medical history and ask you lots of questions.
  • Be cautious of any sites that claim to replace face-to-face consultations with a doctor.

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