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If you have any medical questions or concerns, please talk to your healthcare provider. The articles on Health Guide are underpinned by peer-reviewed research and information drawn from medical societies and governmental agencies. However, they are not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.
We’ve all gotten those spam emails or pop-up men’s health ads promising virility and stronger erections—and when you have erectile dysfunction (ED), you might feel desperate to try anything. That’s understandable, but don’t be fooled. Knockoff, unlicensed products that promise the same results as Viagra are risky. At best, they just don’t work, and at worst, they can be dangerous.
Kamagra Oral Jelly is one such product that’s not approved in the U.S. and may carry the same risks as any unlicensed Viagra-like product. Let’s look at what this product is, why taking it isn’t a good idea, and reliable treatment options we recommend instead.
What is Kamagra Oral Jelly?
According to its website, Kamagra is a company based in Hungary that sells multiple products that they claim function the same way as popular phosphodiesterase-5 (PDE5) inhibitors, the drugs most commonly used to treat erectile dysfunction. Sildenafil (brand name Viagra; see Important Safety Information), tadalafil (brand name Cialis; see Important Safety Information), and vardenafil (brand name Levitra) are all examples of PDE5 inhibitors.
Kamagra claims that their Kamagra Oral Jelly product is an edible formulation containing sildenafil citrate, the same active ingredient in Viagra. They claim that it’s manufactured by Ajanta Pharma Ltd, a pharmaceutical company based in India.
We cannot verify these claims since there’s no research behind this product (nor any of the products sold by Kamagra). No studies exist on these formulations and they are not approved or available in the United States or the United Kingdom (Jackson, 2010).
While you might be able to buy them in Europe, that doesn’t mean that any of the local countries’ medical boards approve of these products.
We know–the medical system can sometimes feel overly bureaucratic. You just want easy access to products that can help you overcome a troubling issue like ED. If the company claims it contains the same active ingredient as Viagra, what’s the harm in trying it? Here’s why it’s not a good idea.
Why you shouldn’t take Kamagra Oral Jelly to treat your ED
So, let’s say Kamagra Oral Jelly does contain sildenafil citrate, as it claims. Even if that’s true, there’s no way to know what else might be in it because it’s an unlicensed, unregulated product.
The same can be said of any medication sold over the internet by an unlicensed distributor.
In fact, it’s estimated that as much as 90% of drugs sold over the internet are counterfeit, with PDE5 inhibitors in the lead. Most of the faux Viagra drugs sold online contain far less sildenafil than they claim (for example, one investigation found a product containing 30 mg of sildenafil when they’d claimed it had 100 mg). Some don’t contain any sildenafil at all and may just be repackaged acetaminophen (brand name Tylenol) or other medications. Worst of all, many investigations have found dangerous substances added to these drugs, such as (Jackson, 2010):
- Talcum powder
- Printer ink
The real danger in buying Kamagra Oral Jelly or any other drug over the internet without a prescription is you simply don’t know what might be in it. Side effects and possible allergic reactions are unpredictable and can be dangerous. And you don’t know which other medications you should avoid while taking it, as a hidden ingredient in the internet drug might interact with a medication you’re currently taking.
Plus, erection problems are often the first sign of a more serious medical condition, such as hypertension (high blood pressure), so it’s important to speak with a licensed healthcare provider if you’re having trouble getting and maintaining an erection rather than trying out a medication you find online (Hernández-Cerda, 2020).
Bottom line: The risks of taking these meds are very real and potentially deadly.
Recommended treatment options for erectile dysfunction
While we can’t recommend taking Kamagra Oral Jelly or any other drugs purchased online from an unlicensed pharmacy, there are many safe and effective options for treating your erectile dysfunction.
The real-deal PDE5 inhibitors are effective, safe, and well-tolerated by most patients.
Here’s how these work to improve erections: PDE5 is an enzyme that breaks down a chemical called cyclic guanosine monophosphate (cGMP). cGMP causes the blood vessels in the penis to relax. When PDE5 is blocked by PDE5 inhibitors, cGMP increases, causing more blood to flow into the penis. More blood flow to the penis makes for stronger erections (Dhaliwal, 2020).
There are four main types of PDE5 inhibitors.
Sildenafil is the generic name for Viagra. It is also marketed as Revatio (see Important Safety Information), but that brand name is only FDA-approved for a condition called pulmonary arterial hypertension (FDA, 2007). At the highest dose (100 mg), sildenafil is effective in 84% of patients. It works within 30–60 minutes of taking it, and it’s best if you don’t take it with a heavily fatty meal (Hatzimouratidis, 2010).
Cialis is the brand name for tadalafil. This drug works similarly to sildenafil, but it has a longer half-life, which means that it lasts for longer in the body (15-17.5 hours hours vs. 4–6 hours with sildenafil). It should be taken 30 minutes to two hours before sexual activity (Gong, 2017).
Finally, vardenafil (which is sold under the brand names Levitra or Staxyn) has a very similar profile to sildenafil, but it’s more potent. This doesn’t necessarily mean it works better, but the medication comes in lower doses than sildenafil. You should take it about 30–60 minutes before sexual intercourse (Hatzimouratidis, 2010).
Avanafil is a newer PDE5 inhibitor that’s currently only available under the brand name, Stendra (FDA-b). It’s not used very widely at this point (likely because it’s more expensive since it’s still under patent), but the research is promising. A big advantage is it works within 15 minutes of taking it, and it lasts for up to 6 hours (Katz, 2014).
Injectable and intraurethral therapies
PDE5 inhibitors are the first-line treatment for ED because they work well for most patients. There are other treatments available, though, if you’re in the minority of patients who don’t respond well to sildenafil, tadalafil, vardenafil, or avanafil, or if you cannot take these medications due to other medical reasons.
One option is an injection that goes into the shaft of the penis. Alprostadil is the primary medication available. As an injectable, it’s available under the brand names Caverject, Edex, or Viridal. Much like PDE5 inhibitors, alprostadil lets blood flow more freely into the penis, a necessary part of an erection (Jain, 2020).
Another option is an intraurethral medication, which is a medication in the form of a pellet or gel that gets inserted into the penis. Again, alprostadil is the primary medication used, but there are also combination medications available. One is called BiMix (a combination of two medications: papaverine and phentolamine), and the other is called TriMix (three drugs combined: papaverine, phentolamine, and alprostadil) (Tharyan, 2006).
Low-intensity extracorporeal shockwave therapy (Li-ESWT) is a newer treatment that’s not being widely used yet, but studies are promising. We don’t quite understand how this treatment works, but there seems to be evidence that this treatment might actually reverse damage to the erectile tissue, possibly having a more permanent effect (Gruenwald, 2013).
This is usually a last resort, but if all other therapies fail, a surgical implant is an option. This is a device or prosthetic that gets surgically inserted into the penis. While surgery is an extreme measure, most patients who wind up going this route are very satisfied with their results, and there are limited complications (Hatzimouratidis, 2010).
Be careful with your medications
If you have erectile dysfunction, it’s important to follow the medical advice of your healthcare provider. Trying to diagnose and medicate yourself by buying unknown substances from unlicensed providers can be dangerous. And with so many safe and effective treatments available, the risks of those knockoff medications outweigh any possible benefits. Make sure to use a safe and verified treatment for erectile dysfunction.
- Dhaliwal A, Gupta M (2020). PDE5 Inhibitor. StatPearls. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK549843/
- Gong, B., Ma, M., Xie, W., Yang, X., Huang, Y., Sun, T., Luo, Y., & Huang, J. (2017). Direct comparison of tadalafil with sildenafil for the treatment of erectile dysfunction: a systematic review and meta-analysis. International Urology and Nephrology, 49(10), 1731–1740. Doi: 10.1007/s11255-017-1644-5. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5603624/
- Gruenwald, I., Appel, B., Kitrey, N. D., & Vardi, Y. (2013). Shockwave treatment of erectile dysfunction. Therapeutic Advances in Urology, 5(2), 95–99. Doi: 10.1177/1756287212470696. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3607492/
- Hatzimouratidis, K., Amar, E., Eardley, I., et al (2010). Guidelines on male sexual dysfunction: erectile dysfunction and premature ejaculation. European Urology, 57(5), 804–814. Doi: 10.1016/j.eururo.2010.02.020. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20189712/
- Hernández-Cerda, J., Bertomeu-González, V., Zuazola, P., & Cordero, A. (2020). Understanding Erectile Dysfunction in Hypertensive Patients: The Need for Good Patient Management. Vascular Health and Risk Management, 16, 231–239. Doi: 10.2147/VHRM.S223331. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7297457/
- Jackson, G., Arver, S., Banks, I., & Stecher, V. J. (2010). Counterfeit phosphodiesterase type 5 inhibitors pose significant safety risks. International Journal of Clinical Practice, 64(4), 497–504. Doi: 10.1111/j.1742-1241.2009.02328.x. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3069491/
- Jain A, Iqbal OA (2020). Alprostadil. StatPearls. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK542217/
- Katz, E. G., Tan, R. B., Rittenberg, D., & Hellstrom, W. J. (2014). Avanafil for erectile dysfunction in elderly and younger adults: differential pharmacology and clinical utility. Therapeutics and Clinical Risk Management, 10, 701–711. Doi: 10.2147/TCRM.S57610. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4155803/
- Tharyan, P., & Gopalakrishanan, G. (2006). Erectile dysfunction. BMJ Clinical Evidence, 2006, 1803. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2907627/
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA-a). (2007). Revatio (sildenafil citrate) tablets. Retrieved at https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2009/021845s005lbl.pdf on January 17, 2021.
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA-b). (2012). Stendra (avanafil) tablets, for oral use. Retrieved at https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2012/202276s000lbl.pdf on January 20, 2021.
Dr. Steve Silvestro is a board-certified pediatrician and Senior Manager, Medical Content & Education at Ro.