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Viagra Friday, 12 March, 1999, 17:40 GMT
'Stop Viagra mail shots'
Vaigra
Mail shots are used to advertise Viagra
The government has been urged to outlaw attempts to market Viagra by unsolicited mail shots.

The practice has been condemned for exploiting the embarrassment of impotent men, and encouraging them not to seek expert help when they could be suffering from serious medical conditions.

Calling on Health Secretary Frank Dobson to intervene, Tory MP Roger Gale said Viagra was a therapeutic drug "and not a recreational toy".

Mr Gale, MP for Thanet North, said a mail shot advertising packets of 30 Viagra tablets for 450 had been sent to a constituent, who wanted to remain anonymous, in Herne Bay, Kent.

The literature was attributed to Swiss company Medica International Pharmaceuticals, but the company was untraceable, and the package was posted in Liverpool.

The documents prominently use the name of Pfizer, the manufacturers of Viagra, without authority.

They say: "If you use it for special occasions it is guaranteed to provide you and your partner with an enriching and fulfilling experience that will enhance a loving relationship."

They go on: "The prescription drugs we supply are specialist medicines which can prove difficult or embarrassing to obtain via your own medical practitioner."

They explain under what conditions Viagra should and should not be taken.

Fast buck
Roger Gale
Roger Gale called on the government to take action

Pfizer, which manufactures Viagra, said it is doing everything it can to stamp out mail shot marketing of the drug.

A spokesman said: "What the publicity surrounding Viagra has done is to encourage a lot of people who are out to make a fast buck to try and market it wherever they can through junk mail or mail shots.

"We want to make absolutely clear that we operate as an ethical pharmaceutical company and have nothing to do with these other companies, do not sanction what they are doing and do all we can to prevent any illegal trading like this."

He said the unauthorised use of trademarks could be a criminal offence.

He also warned that erectile dysfunction in eight out of 10 cases was caused by another medical condition, which would remain undisclosed if people did not go to a doctor and got Viagra through a mail-shot.

People who might be too embarrassed to go to a doctor might respond to a mail shot which, like this one, promised "maximum confidentiality" with the goods packed under plain cover, he added.

"We want to protect our good reputation and the reputation of this brand, and make sure it is used only for its intended purposes. If you are a normal, healthy young male, you are wasting your money."

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