Problems with Erectile Dysfunction Medication Highlight Health Risks in All Drugs

In Long Beach, California, the Volcano company has recalled all of its "male enhancement" drugs because they contain substances which are not permitted by the FDA. Tests by the Food and Drug Administration found that Volcano’s products — which increase male libido and performance — contained the chemicals Desmethyl Carbodenafil, Dimethylsildenafil, and Dapoxetine. The first two are "PDE 5 inhibitors," which stimulate erection. They were undeclared, thus they do not have the correct FDA approval. Dapoxetine also affects male performance, but does not have FDA permission to be used in America.

The sale of these drugs presents a serious risk to consumers in that they contain unapproved materials which are potentially dangerous. Meanwhile, the approved PDE 5 inhibitors can have serious effects if they are taken together with other substances (a risk if consumers do not know that they have this class of chemical in their system). It seems that customers who seek help with their sex life are turning to unofficial outlets as American drugs become more and more expensive. As such Californians and Americans require a system which can provide cheaper drugs.

PDE 5 inhibitors, including drugs such as Staxyn, work by affecting the body chemistry so as to assist the human body in maintaining an erection. It is important, however, that those who take other medication explore whether these drugs will interact with a PDE 5 inhibitor, so as to ensure that enhancement drugs are used without unexpected effects. For example, drugs which contain nitrates (such as nitroglycerin) will interact with the chemicals which were found in Volcano’s products, this combination can cause dangerously low blood pressure. Those with diabetes, high cholesterol and heart disease often take this sort of medication. Dapoxetine, the other chemical which was found in the recalled product, has not been approved by the FDA, meaning that its safety cannot be guaranteed. Dapoxetine belongs to a group of drugs called SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) which have known medical applications; nevertheless, they are powerful chemicals and should never be used without medical advice.

To a large extent, the reason why there is a market for unregulated enhancement drugs and why people are turning, in increasing numbers, to foreign or online drug dispensaries is drug prices which continue to grow beyond inflation. Last month, the FDA closed 16,000 online pharmacies that had been selling fake or illegal medication; at the same time, the people of Maine are now allowed to buy drugs from across the border in Canada. The FDA has warned that it cannot guarantee medication which people buy outside its regulatory authority, nevertheless, consumers are seeking, in large numbers, cheaper sources of medicine. A study by the Commonwealth Fund found that in 2010, 48 million American adults were prescribed medication but didn’t take it because of cost. This not only presents a serious moral and medical problem — these people were prescribed drugs because they needed them — but also presents a financial issue in that citizens who can’t afford drugs when their health issue is minor will then burden the system with a more serious case as their condition deteriorates.

Concerning erectile dysfunction, which is a significant problem for a number of men, the British National Health Service operates a system in which far more people are entitled to the certified drugs for this condition. Some can access the medication after they pay a "prescription charge" — a fee, much less than the cost of the drugs, which patients pay only if they can afford it. Those with certain conditions, such as diabetes, are entitled to drugs which can improve their performance, free of charge.

As a result, people are discouraged from using unverified narcotics, while more people escape the emotional and relationship problems which can result from erectile dysfunction. In addition, a survey which compared the cost of statins in America and in Britain found that Americans had to pay around four times as much as Britons for these drugs, suggesting that creating a health system more like the British one could allow American patients to access medication at a more affordable rate.

As time passes, more news stories, studies and personal accounts are read and published, compelling Americans to choose a medical system in which care is universal. The case of erectile dysfunction is just one example in which a better system, such as single payer, could provide for a safer, fairer environment, in which more men can access the drugs which will allow them to deal with their condition, at a more affordable price.

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