Availability of Sildenafil Over the Counter

Erectile dysfunction is incredibly common, but no matter how many men experience the condition, it can still feel embarrassing. 

Erectile dysfunction is the most common form of sexual dysfunction occurring in men, and it is estimated to affect about one in every three men in the United States. Men are more likely to experience erectile dysfunction as they age, but it can happen to anyone. 

There are lots of reasons why erectile dysfunction can occur, including lifestyle factors, medical conditions, and drug side effects, and it can put a serious damper on your personal life. 

If you are interested in trying the erectile dysfunction drug sildenafil, also known as generic Viagra, you may be wondering about the availability of sildenafil over the counter.

What is sildenafil?

Sildenafil is the generic name for the prescription drug Viagra (known as the little blue pill) which belongs to a family of drugs called PDE-5 inhibitors; PDE-5 inhibitors like sildenafil are used as treatment options for erectile dysfunction in men. Sildenafil first entered the market in 1998 with the brand name Viagra and was sold only under the brand name until the expiration of the manufacturer’s patent in December 2017. 

Since then, the medication has been available in both the brand name form and under the generic name sildenafil citrate and is extremely popular, with nearly three million prescriptions written for the medication in 2018 alone. Sildenafil is sold in dosages of 20 mg, 40 mg, 60 mg, 80 mg, and 100 mg. 

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What is the availability of sildenafil over the counter?

Sildenafil is a prescription medication only and is not available OTC, which can make it difficult for some men to obtain depending on their access to healthcare providers. Sildenafil is available by prescription only because it can cause serious side effects and drug interactions that make it unsuitable for certain patients. 

Medications that are known to interact with sildenafil include nitrates, which are often prescribed for chest pain, and guanylate cyclase stimulators such as Adempas (riociuguat) for pulmonary hypertension. When taken with these types of medications, sildenafil can cause a serious and potentially unsafe drop in blood pressure or blood flow. 

Men with certain medical conditions, including a history of heart problems, may not be able to take sildenafil safely. Although rare, sildenafil can cause certain serious side effects including heart attack, stroke, irregular heartbeat, heart disease, high blood pressure, and death, all of which have been observed in men taking the medication. Although most of these serious side effects occurred in men who had a history of heart problems prior to taking sildenafil, some did not. 

Therefore, doctors and scientists are still researching whether or not sildenafil can cause or contribute to the possibility of experiencing cardiac issues. Due to the potential for serious and dangerous side effects to occur while taking sildenafil, the medication can only be obtained with a prescription and should be taken under the supervision of a medical professional. 

Is sildenafil available without a prescription?

Due to the potential for dangerous side effects of Viagra to occur, sildenafil is not legally available in the United States without a prescription. In some other countries, including the United Kingdom, patients with a low risk factors of experiencing dangerous side effects (based on a suitable medical history) may be able to purchase over the counter Viagra with the approval of a local pharmacy staff member or healthcare professional. However, this option is not widely available, and only certain pharmacies honor the system. As a general rule, any advertisement that indicates sildenafil is being sold without a prescription is advertising counterfeit medication that is being sold illegally. You should not purchase sildenafil without a prescription, as the medication could cause serious harm. 

Can I purchase sildenafil online?

If you are interested in purchasing sildenafil online, however, you may be in luck. Like other erectile dysfunction medications, including tadalafil and cialis, sildenafil can be purchased from an online pharmacy. However, not all online pharmacies are created equally, so it is important to do your research before making a purchase. 

Because sildenafil is so popular and can be expensive, it is one of the most counterfeited drugs on the market today. Pfizer, the original manufacturer of Viagra, estimates that up to 80 percent of sildenafil and Viagra sold online is counterfeit, and it has created a task force to address the issue and stop counterfeiters. Counterfeit sildenafil is likely to be ineffective and a waste of your money, as counterfeit medications only contain 30 to 50 percent of the active ingredient, sildenafil, compared to the legitimate forms of the medication.

As if paying too much for ineffective medication wasn’t bad enough, the counterfeit drugs sold online have often been found to contain dangerous ingredients like rat poison, methamphetamines, printer ink, and more. With no quality assurance or quality control, there is no way to know what you’re ingesting when you purchase counterfeit medication. Therefore, it’s incredibly important to do your research and ensure that the online pharmacy you choose is licensed and accredited. 

You may be able to submit the prescription from your healthcare provider to the online pharmacy, or you may choose to work with an online pharmacy that employs doctors who will be able to prescribe the medication if you have not already obtained a prescription. 

If you’d prefer to avoid interacting with a doctor face to face, you may be able to use an online pharmacy that offers the option to consult with a doctor online by filling out a questionnaire and possibly answering some follow up questions. Make sure to give a complete medical history and a complete list of any medications that you are taking, as sildenafil can be dangerous when taken by the wrong person. Finally, make sure to take note of the price compared to other legitimate pharmacies. If the price seems too good to be true, it probably is!

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Where can sildenafil be purchased online?

If you’re committed to the idea of avoiding the pharmacy counter and purchasing your medication online, there are a few steps you can take to ensure that you are getting legal sildenafil. First, check to see how much your medication would cost when purchased through a brick and mortar pharmacy. 

Researching the cost ahead of time will give you a ballpark pricing figure for the amount you should expect to spend on your medication and will make it easier to spot a counterfeiter, who will typically sell their product for a fraction of the cost of the real thing.  The National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP) states that 97 percent of the websites currently selling prescription drugs are listed as “not recommended” because they do not meet the criteria for online pharmacies. The NABP operates a website that allows you to check and see if your online pharmacy is legitimate and safe or not, so checking the URL there before you buy is a must-do.

How can I save money on my prescription?

If you were hoping to buy sildenafil online or over the counter in order to save money, you can take comfort in knowing that there are lots of other ways to lower the cost of your prescription medication. One of the easiest ways to cut down on cost is to choose generic sildenafil over the brand name drug, Viagra. 

Since the release of generic sildenafil in December 2017, prices for both the brand name and generic versions of sildenafil have lowered significantly from approximately 60 dollars per pill in previous years to less than four dollars per pill today, a savings of over 90 percent. Generic sildenafil is covered by most insurance companies, while Viagra is less likely to be covered since a generic option is available.

Regardless of your insured status, it is possible to save money on sildenafil by purchasing your prescription using a pharmacy discount card. Pharmacy discount cards are free and available to anyone and help you save money on all FDA-approved prescriptions, including both brand name and generic drugs. You won’t need to hassle with any co-pays or paperwork; just pay the negotiated rate at the pharmacy counter and save on your medication.

Summary

Sildenafil isn’t available over the counter due to the potential for serious side effects and drug interactions, but it is possible to save money on your prescription by using a pharmacy discount card from USA Rx. Patients should carefully research their pharmacy, particularly when purchasing online, to ensure that the pharmacy is accredited and the medication they receive is not counterfeit.

Sources:

https://www.webmd.com/drugs/2/drug-7418/sildenafil-oral/details 

https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a699015.html 

https://www.healthline.com/health/erectile-dysfunction 

https://www.healthline.com/health/how-common-is-ed 

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5960035/ 

https://clincalc.com/DrugStats/Drugs/Sildenafil

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