What you need to know:
- Recent reports, mostly on social media, showed that more men are dying from the effects of the sex-enhancing drugs sold over the counter.
- Experts acknowledge that the controlled medicines are being dispensed with abandon and men, young and old, are eating them like groundnuts.
“If you usually experience chest pains or pant while climbing stairs or performing light duties, then you should not take this drug,” said a female attendant at a chemist in Nairobi city centre.
“Do you experience any of the said signs?”
The buyer, a male Nation reporter in his late twenties, responded in the negative.
“What strength do you want? We have three: the low dose, medium and the highest dose. They are all in stock but the prices are different,” she said.
“The low dose one goes for Sh100 and it is taken daily, an hour before the act; the medium goes for Sh220, it is taken once but it is not as powerful as the one with the highest strength, which goes for Sh500 and is also taken once although it takes months before fading from the blood system," she said.
The buyer settled for the medium strength. The woman proceeded to dispense the drug without demanding a prescription.
The buyer then moved to the next chemist located 500 metres away and ordered a low dose of the drug from the man at the counter and the pharmacist packed the drug, received the cash and wrote a receipt.
No prescription was demanded.
Sexual performance drugs
That is how easy it is to obtain sexual performance enhancing drugs in Nairobi. The drug, Viagra, has become the newest recreational medicine of choice for young men who should not be using it. They are simply abusing it and courting problems in future, warn doctors.
The Nation set to find out the hassles of getting the “blue pill” after recent reports, mostly on social media, showed that more men are dying from the effects of the sex-enhancing drugs sold over the counter.
While a majority of the deaths have not been certified as drug-related, experts acknowledge that the controlled medicines are being dispensed with abandon and men, young and old, are eating them like groundnuts.
Dr John Ong’ech, a leading obstetrician and gynaecologist, says this is dangerous.
“These drugs are meant to cause an erection and it is not easy for a forced erection to play well with someone with a heart or liver problem, for instance. That is why most people are dying after using them, because there is no enough blood to the other parts of the body,” Dr Ongech says.
“When it is dispensed after prescription, at least it can be traced to the medic prescribing it and establish why.”
The Pharmaceutical Society of Kenya has warned against indiscriminate use of Slidenafil, Tadalafil, Verdenafil and Anafil without advice from a doctor.
“We acknowledge that the drugs have been used to effectively manage erectile dysfunction, but we caution the public to refrain from accessing them without a full evaluation, diagnosis and prescription by a qualified medic,” said PSK president Louis Machogu.
Dr Machogu observed that the use of the medicines without evaluation makes one more prone to their harmful effects, including vision loss, unwanted persistent erection, potential for cardiac risk, headache, nosebleeding and diarrhoea.
Blood flow to the penis
The drugs work by increasing blood flow to the penis during sexual stimulation, which later causes a firm erection but when one has a pre-existing condition such as a heart problem, it can cause death.
“When you take the pill, it causes the walls of blood vessels in the penis to relax, allowing blood to flow easily through them and thereafter an erection will be achieved in response to sexual stimulation. It can go on for hours, leading to a painful erection. That is why it is always advisable to take it an hour before you plan to have sex and you sure you will have it,” Dr Ong’ech said.
A recent study on the side effects of sex performance enhancing medication by Ohio State University from 1998 (the year Viagra was approved) through 2007, shows it has been implicated in at least 1,824 deaths mostly from heart attacks.
Cialis, approved in 2003, has been linked to 236 deaths, and Levitra (2003) to 121.
The three drugs appear to have contributed to at least 2,500 nonfatal heart attacks and other potentially serious heart problems, and more than 25,000 other potentially serious side effects, among them ministrokes, vision and hearing loss.
Dr Ongech explains that the first 30 minutes are the time for an erection to happen and within an hour it would have reached the maximum concentration in the blood. This is the time its effect peaks.
“This is why it is recommended that one takes it an hour before the act,” he says.
The drug, he notes, can still work, 10 hours after taking it but the erection duration might be shorter. It is only after 24 hours that the traces fade in the bloodstream.
“The effects are devastating and it is advisable that before one takes it, they should visit their doctor for a checkup on the problem more so the young people who are having so much anxiety to please their partners,” Dr Machogu warned.