Auction website sells fake Viagra

Thousands of fake Viagra pills are being sold openly in Britain on the internet auction site eBay, despite attempts by health authorities to stop the spread of counterfeit medicines.

The widespread sale of fake versions of the sexual dysfunction drug emerged after The Independent on Sunday last month exposed a British-run website, called paypill.com, that was illegally selling counterfeit Viagra.

Last week, the website was again forced to stop selling fake Viagra after it emerged that it had gone back into business to sell Kamagra, an infamous Indian "clone" of Viagra that illegally uses the drug's active ingredient, sildenafil citrate.

Now eBay, which runs about 21 million auctions every day worldwide, is expected to shut down hundreds of auctions of both Kamagra and Viagra running on its British website, after being alerted by the IoS.

A search on eBay's UK site yesterday showed there were about 200 auctions of the drugs by British sellers - breaching the auction company's policies. Some cost as little as £1.66 a pill - a quarter of the lowest legal price for Viagra.

The disclosure has exposed a loophole in the attempts to crack down on illegal medicines by British regulators and by Pfizer, the drugs giant that owns the patents to Viagra and sildenafil citrate. The UK's main safety authority, the Medical and Health products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), last year prosecuted two men for selling Kamagra.

It has also revealed a gap in the attempts by eBay to stop illegal goods and drugs being sold in its auctions.

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