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Sky-rocking Illegal Online Sale of Viagra

Posted October. 02, 2002 22:54,   


“Order Viagra online! No prescription is necessary.”

“Slow down your aging process!”

Recently, taking advantage of the loopholes in the system, English junk mails with tiles like the ones above are being randomly sent to Korean Internet users in huge volume. Most of the junk mails are originated from the overseas web sites dealing with medical supplies. They promise to deliver the medicine ordered online to the homes of their customers.

However, this type of marketing is illegal. In addition, it is almost impossible to deliver the drugs into Korea. Thus, customers should be put on alert against the risks lying in the online transaction.

A US company “onlinepills.com” is advertising via e-mail that no prescriptions are necessary. It says that the doctors of the company write prescriptions for the drugs such as Viagra that cannot be bought without them. Then, it delivers the drugs via FedEx.

The list of the prescription drugs sold there covers variety of them including Propecia for baldness and Xenical for obesity. In other words, the type of prescription drugs sold online is a kind of “happy maker” which allegedly helps increase the quality of life.

Another US company “Gratuitous” sends out mails, promising to deliver for $50 to the home of the customer a growth hormone which allegedly stops the aging process.

Regarding this, Mang Ho-young, a high-ranking official of Ministry of Health and Welfare, warned, “Under the current law of Korea, writing prescriptions online is principally illegal. If allowed, it should be done by a doctor certified of his/her credentials and with relevant equipment. Practically, even if side effects break out, you will have no person to hold accountable. You should be really cautious”

Under the current law, medical supplies sent via mail are not allowed into Korea unless they are for a patient for whom no treatment is presently available. According to the customs office, from January to August of this year, 515,000 diet pills and 263,000 pills of Viagra were confiscated during inspection. Kim Sae-chul, a medical doctor and professor at Joong Ang Univ., pointed out, “Prescription drugs like Viagra are very efficacious. But, at the same time, due to the efficacy, they convey a higher risk of side effects. Thus, a person should not attempt to make his/her own prescription at all. A new law should be enacted to regulate this type of junk mails.”

Ji-Wan Cha maruduk@donga.com