Is Generic Viagra Legitimate?

Q:Is Generic Viagra Legitimate?

Is “generic Viagra” from legitimate mail order pharmacies?
Viagra is an expensive drug that, with or without reason, Medicare and many private drug plans do not cover. Lately I am receiving emails and calls from what claims to be a Canadian pharmacy trying to sell me generic “Viagra” at a substantial discount. What is the truth about “Generic Viagra”?

A:In short, no. A cheaper generic version of Viagra – the blue pill for erectile dysfunction that is made by the pharmaceutical company Pfizer – is not yet sold in the United States, although by the end of 2017 it is expected to be available.

“Any pharmacy offering generic Viagra is probably using counterfeit products that are not approved,” said Carmen Catizone, executive director of the National Association of Pharmacy Councils, a professional organization not affiliated with drug manufacturers.

At Costco.com, each 100 milligrams Viagra prescription tablet costs approximately $ 50, although this is the spot price and does not include insurance discounts. On the contrary, several sites claim to sell generic Viagra overseas for $ 1 to $ 4 a pop.

While a generic form of Viagra, known as sildenafil, is made in some countries, bargain hunters can buy sugar pills, or inadvertently get a low dose of the drug. “Medication may be there, but it’s a much lower dose. So the man gets depressed because he thinks nothing’s going to work,” said Dr. Darius Paduch, director of sexual health and medicine at Weill Cornell Medicine and NewYork-Presbyterian. “So you can stop having sex or never see a doctor.”

Medical problems can also arise if a patient gets fake Viagra that is “substantially less effective,” but does not reveal that he got it from a suspect site by selling cheap Viagra, Dr. Paduch said. For example, it might suggest penis injection therapy, which can have serious side effects for a man who has mild erectile dysfunction, since injections are for more severe cases.

All the time, the patient with a mild case could have responded to Viagra in good faith from a legitimate pharmacy.

Shame is the problem, not the cost, for some people. Even with a prescription, Dr. Paduch said that some patients prefer to buy online or trek to the office for a free sample, rather than facing the pharmacist. “They are so embarrassed by the stigma that it’s completely stupid,” said Dr. Paduch, who used to be a paid research investigator for Eli Lilly, the maker of Cialis, another erectile dysfunction pill.

Roger Bate, a pharmaceutical expert at the American Enterprise Institute, warned men not to respond to a random spam email by selling Viagra really cheap. “You’re running a significant risk,” he said, with some websites “not only trying to get their money and selling you a fake pill, but probably trying to steal your identity as well.” But, he said, Viagra real, made by Pfizer, is available on some foreign websites.