EXCLUSIVE Cheap..but on-line drugs can kill you Doctors in warning as dodgy websites make a fortune
HOUSANDS of pill poppers are gambling with their lives by buying cheap prescription drugs over the Internet.
More and more people use on-line pharmacies to obtain Viagra, Prozac and other treatments.
They do it to save cash or to by-pass GPs and misuse drugs for life-style reasons. But they are dicing with death by getting pills and tablets without medical advice - and could be sold fakes laced with killer chemicals or even brick dust.
British Medical Association expert Dr Paul Cundy warned: "You shouldn't touch these sites with a barge pole.
"Buying drugs online is extremely dangerous. You have no idea whether what you get is what it says on the box or a stronger, different drug that could interact badly with other medications."
Internet drug stores make a fortune as:
TABLETS meant for kids with attention deficit disorder are snapped up by overworked businessmen to improve concentration.
PILLS for the sleeping disease narcolepsy go to students swotting for exams.
INJECTIONS intended for muscle-weakened Aids victims are used by bodybuilders.
CAPSULES for treating dangerously obese patients are bought by youngsters with eating disorders.
The sites - many based in obscure corners of the globe - do not break the law as they claim orders are checked by their prescribing doctors.
But many of the drugs have potentially deadly side-effects or are addictive. Fakes are a constant risk with a worldwide counterfeit drugs industry worth £20billion a year.
A trading standards report last week revealed that some drugs contained mercury and by-products of motor oil.
Dr John Farrell from Pfizer, which makes Viagra, said: "If you take medicine bought off the Internet you might as well put a gun to your head."
PROZAC Chemical name: Fluoxetine hydrochloride
Cost £35 for 30 (20mg) tablets
Uses Anti-depressant taken by more than a million Brits
Abuses Clubbers take it to counteract the "come down" from using Ecstasy
Dangers Stomach upset, dizziness, tremor and sexual dysfunction. In 2003, 81 deaths were attributed to overdoses.
XENICAL Chemical name: Orlistat
Cost £80 for 60 (120mg) capsules
Uses Weight loss drug for the obese. Blocks digestion of fats so they are excreted
Abuses Used by slimmers and sufferers of eating disorders to boost weight loss
Dangers Can cause lack of bowel control, nausea, headache, and may deplete the body of vitamins A, D, E and K
VALIUM Chemical name: Diazepam
Cost £55 for 30 (10mg) pills
Uses Anti-depressant popular in 60s but used less now due to fears of addiction
Abuses Reports say young women and cocaine users take it as a sleeping pill
Dangers Highly addictive. The Priory estimates that one in ten patients at its addiction centre is hooked on valium
RITALIN Chemical name: Methylthenidate
Cost £40 for 60 (10mg) tablets Uses Treats attention problems in kids. More than 30,000 British youngsters take it
Abuses Students and businessmen take it to improve concentration, and young girls to suppress appetite and slim
Dangers High risk of heart attack. The US Food and Drug Administration ruled that it must carry warnings
LIPITOR Chemical name: Atorvastatin
£30 for 30 (10mg) tablets
Lowering cholesterol and blood fats. More than 11 million prescriptions for Lipitor are issued in the UK each year
Reports say it is being misused as a slimming aid by women
Risk of digestive and liver problems. Other side effects include flu-like fevers, sinus problems, nausea, insomnia, and swollen hands and feet
VIAGRA Chemical name: Sildenafil Citrate
Around £50 for four genuine 50mg tablets but fakes are available for around £2 each
Impotency drug designed to help patients who have genuine erectile dysfunction
Used to try to boost sexual performance, or as a clubber's drug
Risk of heart problems, blindness, severe headaches and blurred vision
PROVIGIL Chemical name: Modafinil
£90 for 30 (100mg) tablets
Treatment for narcolepsy or sleeping sickness. Also used by fatigued MS sufferers
Clubbers use it to keep partying, students to revise all night and businessmen to get through long days
Can be psychologically addictive and may cause headaches, nausea and insomnia
PROPECIA Chemical name: Finasteride
£35 for 30 (1Mg) pills
A treatment for male hair loss with hereditary causes
Women with thinning hair use it too, despite risks in pregnancy
Abnormality to male babies' sex organs if used by pregnant women. Decreased libido and sexual dysfunction in men
ATIVAN Chemical name: Lorazepam
£100 for 90 (2mg) pills
Used to treat anxiety, mania, schizophrenia, alcohol withdrawal and chemotherapy patients
A downer by cocaine users, or a sleeping pill on long flights
Extremely habit-forming. Can cause memory loss, dizziness, nausea, and in some extreme cases hallucinations
SEROSTIM Chemical name: Somatropin
Around £6 for one injection
Growth hormone to build up the strength of Aids patients suffering weight loss
Used by body builders, or by women to make their skin look younger. It is proving a new beauty craze in Hollywood
Headache, increased hunger, nausea, vomiting, breathing problems. Fake versions have caused severe side effects in US Aids patients