Six websites selling fake Viagra face prosecution after an undercover inquiry found that at least half of all impotence drugs being sold over the internet are counterfeit.

Six websites selling fake Viagra face prosecution after an undercover inquiry found that at least half of all impotence drugs being sold over the internet are counterfeit.

The scale of the worldwide illegal trade in fake Viagra was uncovered by chemists working for the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS), who have handed the names of the suspect sites to the Government's medical safety agency.

The fresh legal moves follow the discovery this summer that counterfeit supplies of the impotence drug Cialis, made by Lilly ICOS, and the anti-obesity drug Reductil had been bought by the NHS - cases that shocked ministers.

The RPS, which has bought more than 100 counterfeit drug samples over the internet since 2000 from countries such as Singapore, India and Malta, believes it is close to a major breakthrough in the fight against the trade.

Meanwhile, a website set up by a British businessman, John Yonge, has again been forced to shut down after The Independent on Sunday discovered it was selling fake Viagra - for the second time this year.

Paypill.com, which claimed to be a London-based business, was exposed in January for selling counterfeit Viagra. It promised it would stop selling the drug.

But after relocating from south-east France to Spain this summer, Paypill again began selling tablets that it insisted were "genuine Viagra manufactured by Pfizer".

Two weeks ago, a Paypill spokesman called Paul Bray claimed in an interview with Radio 5 Live that its drugs were European-made and bought "from licensed importers the same way as the NHS does". He added: "We do take all necessary steps to ensure that we're selling the genuine article."

But tests by the drugs giant Pfizer have found the tablets being sold by Paypill.com were again fakes, and contained none of the active ingredient, sildenafil citrate.

Paypill reacted by closing down its website late on Friday - but continued to insist it bought its tablets from the same wholesalers that supply the NHS. It claimed: "We have never, ever knowingly sold counterfeit drugs."

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