My role


Most men would consider buying drugs online

Three out of every five men in the recent malehealth online drugs survey would consider buying drugs online without a prescription. And one in three had already done so. 

This figure of 36% buying online is far higher than the rate of 3-4% that we usually see in our general readers' surveys but perhaps not surprising in a self-selecting specialist questionnaire since only those with something to say on the subject are likely to fill it in.

So while this does not mean that one in three blokes are buying drugs online, it does mean that it is popular and widespread. The most popular online purchase among the 200 men surveyed was drugs to help erections (15% had bought them). The second most popular category was weight-loss drugs with 4%.

Clearly there is a big risk to online buying. But it is also clear - and doctors, drug companies and regulatory authorities need to understand this - that a lot of men are happy with it. Seven out of 10 of men who were buying online said they would recommend what they were buying to a friend. It may be illegal, it may be dangerous but for some men it's better than the alternatives - namely, taking nothing or having to talk to a doctor.

'I'd buy online if my doctor was unwilling or unable to prescribe what I wanted.'

Our survey also suggests that the potential online market is enormous. Of those surveyed, 38% said they would buy online 'in the right circumstances' and a further 23% said maybe they would. The most popular 'right circumstance' was 'if the doctor was unable or unwilling to prescribe something I felt I needed' or words to that effect. Other 'right circumstances' included: 

  • if a reputable site recommended it
  • if someone I trusted recommended it
  • if I or a member of my family needed something that NICE guidelines wouldn't let us have
  • if I'd been prescribed it before and it was cheaper
  • to avoid having to go the doctors because they are 'only open in the weekdays'
  • to avoid it appearing on my medical records as they are 'now open access to the whole surgery'
  • lack of medical insurance
  • in an emergency

'This survey show that the issue of online buying is not as open and shut as you might think given the obvious risks,' said malehealth editor Jim Pollard. 'The perception is that the people who are most concerned about it are the drug companies because it affects their profits and their brand reputations and the regulators because it's illegal. But the man in the street couldn't care less about drug company profits or even about illegality. We need to smrter about communicating the risks to him.

'The "just say no" approach can never work. Men need to be informed about how the counterfeit drugs trade really works so they can make their own decisions from a position of knowledge. Once you know how it really works, there's only one decision you can make.'


Page created on February 28th, 2008

Page updated on May 25th, 2011