Fake medicines bought on the internet could be putting men's lives at risk, according to a Cracking Counterfeit report from Pfizer, the makers of the erectile dysfunction drug Viagra.
Leading media medic Dr Mark Porter, who is supporting the campaign, said: "I can see why some people might consider buying prescription medicines online from unregulated 'pharmacies' – it is convenient, relatively anonymous and often cheaper – but they should not.
"Any apparent benefits are more than outweighed by the risks of ending up with counterfeit medicines – fakes that are unlikely to contain what they are supposed to, and which often contain chemicals they should not. At best they are useless, and at worst potentially lethal."
The Pfizer-commissioned report reveals that one in ten men interviewed admitted buying prescription-only medicines without a prescription.
As well as Viagra they included drugs to stop smoking, to lose weight, to lower cholesterol and to treat depression.
Half of men who bought medicine without a prescription did so via the internet – "a worrying statistic when you factor in that 90% of all medicines sold on the internet are thought to be fake", says the report.