Swissmedic issues warning about erectile stimulants from online sources

Man hospitalised after taking illegal erectile stimulants – Swissmedic issues warning about erectile stimulants from Internet sources


Among the medicinal products imported illegally into Switzerland, erectile stimulants have for many years been those which have featured most prominently by far. A current case of overdose with resulting hospitalisation demonstrates that medicinal products from illegal sources can endanger healt.

In early 2023, a man was admitted to the emergency department of a Swiss hospital with a prolonged erection, spasms in the legs and back pain after taking erectile stimulants. The preparation taken was an unauthorised product from an unknown source abroad. A sample of the product was analysed in the Swissmedic laboratory (OMCL) and was found to contain 194 mg of sildenafil. By taking two tablets, the patient received many times the maximum recommended dose of active substance for erectile dysfunction, resulting in dangerous side effects.

It is not unusual for illegal erectile stimulants to contain excessive amounts of the active substance. Swissmedic investigated confiscated erectile stimulants in 2019 (see link to detailed report below). It found that around half of the samples analysed had quality deficiencies, including grossly excessive dosages in 15% of all products examined. Higher doses do not have a stronger effect, yet the risk of adverse reactions such as a fall in blood pressure or hypersensitivity reactions is greater. These types of overdoses are particularly worrying because the active substance is degraded relatively slowly in the body. People with risk factors, in particular, may experience serious, sometimes life-threatening events involving abnormal heart rhythms or heart attack. A prolonged erection can also have serious consequences.

Swissmedic urgently warns against purchasing and using unauthorised medicines offered in printed advertisements, promotional e-mails or via websites. These types of product can harbour a considerable health risk if they contain no active substance, an incorrect one or too high a dose. Laboratory tests have also found toxic or addictive substances, sometimes in high doses.

Officially licensed and controlled distribution channels are the only guarantee of safe, flawless-quality medicines. Swissmedic advises against buying medicinal products on the Internet unless you do so from a Swiss mail-order pharmacy operating under a cantonal permit.

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