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Feds: Fake Viagra Pills Are Dangerous

By Joe Shortsleeve, WBZ-TV
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Federal officials want consumers to be wary of counterfeit pills purchased over the Internet.

Federal officials want consumers to be wary of counterfeit pills purchased over the Internet.

WBZ-TV's Joe Shortsleeve Joe Shortsleeve
Joe Shortsleeve is chief correspondent for WBZ-TV News weekdays a...
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BOSTON (CBS) – They may look like the real thing on sale at a deep discount, but buyer beware! Counterfeit Viagra and other pills could be deadly. As Chief Correspondent Joe Shortsleeve found out they are being purchased in huge numbers over the Internet.

Thousands of products might sound like Viagra but they are not. With names like Man-up…Weekend Prince and Maxman …they are flooding the market.

Federal Agent David Murphy says this stuff “is flying the under radar!”

WBZ-TV’s Joe Shortsleeve reports.

Investigators say nearly 80 different products claiming to be “all natural” are being shipped to this country from China and India. But they are not “all natural.” Most have been laced with the chemical found in prescription Viagra: Sildenafil.

Agent Murphy says these products “are putting people at risk.”

US Customs and Border Protection agents have been seizing them in big numbers. In four months, nearly 200,000 pills containing the active ingredient in Viagra have been seized in Chicago. And WBZ has learned there is also an investigation on going here in New England.

See: National Association of Boards of Pharmacy

Professor Todd Brown is the Vice Chairman of the Department of Pharmacy at Northeastern University. He says this is “huge problem.”

Brown suggests 95% of Internet pharmacy sites are operating outside the law.

“People are looking to save money. What they do not understand is that many times they are putting themselves in significant danger. It can be life threatening.”

Brown says people can suffer heart attacks and strokes.

Now, in addition to products claiming to be “all natural,” federal agents have also been seizing fake prescription drugs.

Agent Murphy says “we are seeing all the drugs. We are seeing counterfeit Levitra, counterfeit Viagra and counterfeit Cialis.”

The packaged products carry phony labels and the pills themselves have sloppy imprints and the colors are often wrong.

Agent Murphy points out as he examines one package “you have dirt inside of the packaging…. there is dirt in there.”

Investigators say they are showing up in massive quantities because they are cheaper than the real thing.

Scott McIntire of the Food and Drug Administration says “that is a big red flag when you see it at a reduced price or half the price.”

Now just last Friday Investigators at New York’s John F Kennedy airport seized 20,000 fake Viagra pills worth almost a quarter of million dollars on the street. The shipment came from Hong Kong and something did not look quite right.

If you have questions about a particular internet pharmacy you can contact the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy at www.nabp.net.

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