Unlicensed Viagra salesman faces stiff penalty

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The Independent Online
DID THE police and officials from the Medicine Control Agency think they were looking for a "hardened" criminal?

It is impossible to say, but this week, acting on a tip-off from a council employee, they raided an unlicensed sex-shop in Soho, London, and seized 14 cases of Viagra, the erection-enhancing wonder-drug. It is not an uplifting tale. After the tip-off the officials made a test purchase, buying one blue, diamond-shaped pill for pounds 40 before preparing to raid the shop.

"They were sold pills that had to be Viagra, and subsequently raided the shop," said a Westminster City Council spokesman.

"The person ... who made the sale was interviewed. He may be charged with unlicensed sale of the drug and will certainly be prosecuted for the sale of unlicensed videos and CD-Roms which were also seized." But what had the 38-year-old man questioned over the sale allegedly done wrong: will he not claim he was supplying a demand?

A Department of Health spokesman said: "This drug can kill if it is taken with the wrong types of medicine. This is a serious issue and the MCA take it seriously." Viagra is unlicensed in Britain and is only available from doctors who agree to take all legal responsibility should something go wrong.

It is reportedly being sold to nightclubbers for pounds 25 a time. It was launched three months ago in the United States and has been used by 2 million men. Its reputation for reviving the ailing sex-lives of men suffering from impotence has created an unusual hype around the drug. But it also has reported side-effects, including headaches and leaving users with a blue tinge to their vision. Side-effects aside, demand for the pill continues to rise, with an estimated pounds 1bn bill for the NHS if all projected prescriptions were met.

The shop-owner, if charged and found guilty, could face an unlimited fine or even two years in prison. Yes, yes, yes, it does sound like a bit of a stiff sentence.

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