NEW YORK — Pfizer is attempting to stem the rise of counterfeit medicines by selling one of its most popular drugs — and one of the most popular targets for counterfeiters — online.
The drug maker announced that it had launched Viagra (sildenafil citrate) home delivery, a prescription-fulfillment website for the drug, which is powered by CVS/pharmacy and accessible through Viagra.com.
"Through our ongoing analyses, we've seen how fake pharmacy websites can lure consumers into buying counterfeit medicines with what seems to be an easy purchase experience, but it may be putting their health at risk," National Association of Boards of Pharmacy executive director Carmen Catizone said. "We're pleased to see companies collaborating to develop and support solutions that will help patients obtain legitimate prescription medications online."
With the website, men with prescriptions for Viagra can submit it through the website, while CVS will handle the back-end functions, including authentication.
Pfizer noted that there are almost 24 million searches for Viagra online every year, but a review by the NABP of more than 10,000 online pharmacies found that 97% of them were illegitimate. In response, the organization and government agencies have sought means of stemming the spread of the illegal pharmacies. Last month, the Food and Drug Administration launched BeSafeRx, an interactive online map that helps users distinguish legitimate online pharmacies from fake ones, while the NABP has proposed a ".pharmacy" top-level domain reserved for the websites of licensed online pharmacies. The FDA, NABP and others have warned that consumers who purchase drugs from illegitimate online pharmacies may be putting themselves at risk of using drugs that are contaminated, counterfeit, adulterated or expired.