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Swiss men buying more ‘Viagra’ online

More and more Swiss men are buying what they believe to be Viagra on the internet, but the pills can contain cement or even rat poison, consumer watchdogs warn.

Swiss men buying more 'Viagra' online
Vangelis Thomaidis

The number of men resorting to purchasing illegal pills on the internet has “dramatically increased”, Michael Rudin, director of the Consumer Forum Switzerland, told online news site Blick.

“The market is growing annually by 30 percent.”

Around 300,000 packages of sexual performance-enhancing drugs were sold in Switzerland last year. But prices are steep, with a pill costing some 20 francs ($21), a sum not recoverable through health insurance.

A large number of men, many of them embarrassed at having to seek help for their erectile dysfunction, are instead buying drugs from illegal internet companies.

“Many men are too proud to go to the pharmacy or the doctor to buy officially approved Viagra,” Rudin told Blick.

As well as avoiding the need to speak about their impotence, the men also pay a lot less online, where the pills can retail for as little as two francs each.

But drugs purchased online are potentially very dangerous, since the consumer cannot be sure what ingredients they contain.

“Many are illegal and cause illness, instead of healing. They can even be fatal. A dangerous game of Russian roulette,” Swissmedic spokesman Daniel Luthi told Blick.

Recent cases have emerged where drugs bought from China or India have contained rat poison and cement. In China, cement is advertised as being a sexual performance-enhancer, which strengthens men’s penises.

“There have been hospitalizations of people who have used drugs bought over the internet and have taken an overdose,” Luthi said.

Customs seized about 1,300 packages of the drugs last year, but it is estimated that a far higher number made it through.

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DRUGS

Switzerland green lights recreational marijuana trial

Switzerland’s National Council has approved a plan to start cannabis trials for recreational use. If it is to be legalised however, the government says it must be organic and grown locally.

Switzerland green lights recreational marijuana trial
Photo: MLADEN ANTONOV / AFP

The study, which was approved by the National Council on Tuesday, hopes to find out more about the effects that a controlled legalisation of the drug would have in Switzerland. 

The decision to embark upon the trial was to be made in March but was delated due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

The experiments are to be carried out in Switzerland’s larger cities. Basel, Bern, Biel, Geneva and Zurich have all expressed interest in conducting the trials. 

The study wants to understand how the market for cannabis works – and how to combat the black market. The social effects of legalisation are also set to be studied. 

“The models must be tested before starting the debate on whether or not to liberalise cannabis,” said Pierre-Yves Maillard (Social Democrats), a spokesperson for the responsible committee. 

Only people who currently use cannabis – and can prove it – will be allowed to participate. Proof will be determined through a hair sample. 

‘Organic and Swiss’

Although legalisation is not a foregone conclusion, the National Council added that if cannabis was to be legalised it must be locally grown in Switzerland – and must be organic. 

Minister of Health Alain Berset said that a legalisation should benefit Swiss farmers even though “very few producers have experience in this area”, Berset said. 

200,000 cannabis users in Switzerland

An estimated 200,000 people smoke cannabis products in Switzerland. Those in favour of the new trial argue that this shows the war on drugs has failed – and that legalisation will 

Since 2011, the sale of cannabis products containing up to one percent tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) – the ingredient that makes users high – has been legal in Switzerland.

Regular strength cannabis and other associated products such as hashish are also illegal, although small amounts (less than ten grams) are decriminalised and will only attract a 100 franc on-the-spot fine. 

A poll by the World Health Organisation showed that more teenagers smoked in Switzerland than in any other European country, with 27 percent of 15 year olds having smoked at least once. 

The use of cannabis for medical purposes is also heavily restricted in Switzerland, with only one product – CBD oil – legally available for sale. 

 

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