Why do spammers choose the drugs they do?

I just cleared out my spam bin, and got to wondering. Why do spammers advertise, specifically, Cialis and Viagra?

Why not human growth hormone, steroids, heroin, or for that matter Aspirin? Does it make a difference if the drugs are prescription? (Are Cialis and Viagra prescription?) Is there some kind of evolutionary thing going on where they compare-try different ads, and the Cialis and Viagra ones are the most profitable, and hence survive?

Cialis and Viagra are prescription. Spammers are smart enough to know their target market… middle aged males. Spammers have been ‘selling’ boner pills for a really long time. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Dudes are probably much more embarrassed to ask for a script for boner pills than they would be to ask a trainer for HGH or a co-worker for heroin. People probably don’t want to start a heroin addiction anyway.

But if you could anonymously and cheaply get a guaranteed 4-hour erection? Sign 'em up! People take those pills recreationally even if they don’t have a need for them.

I’ve heard this too, but since there are side effects to any medication I don’t get why you would take something you really don’t need… but that’s just me.

I have an odd recollection of once seeing spam for HGH.

Heroin is slightly illegal, and would bring down the wrath of all the powers on both buyer and seller. So that isn’t on.

Boner pills are perfect. They can be sugar pills so long as they are blue. Most are. (Sugar and blue). The placebo effect is as likely as anything to make the buyer think there is some benefit, so they might even buy more. Spamming with fake therapeutic drugs is going to get you in trouble a lot sooner. Since these pills are totally fake there isn’t any real issue with violation of patents or lack of scripts. Maybe trademark infringement, and good luck to Pfizer making that stick.

Like any scam, the recipient has to be greedy too. Middle aged men with erectile issues are a market made for the internet scammer. Goes hand in hand with emails from sincere Russian blondes.

I hate to shatter your world view but … lookalikes for Viagra and Cialis (NOT placebos) are manufactured in countries like India and available in some countries for 30 cents per dose or less. I don’t know what the U.S. price for Viagra is, but spammer may sell genuine product and get good profit. (his obvious incentive is repeat business.)

Disclaimer: IANA spammer, nor have I answered spam ads.

Besides the obvious scam of selling fake pills, other scams include:

  1. Not selling anything. You pay: get nothing.

  2. Leading you to click on a link to a malware infesting site. Your computer is now owned.

  3. They have your credit card number and big time fun ensues.

It is most likely that the 2nd one accounts for the majority of pill scammers.

One thing that is easily checked is when was the domain registered. If it’s at most a few months old, or in many cases less than a week old, it’s almost certainly an extremely bad site. (Rather than just sleazy bad.) However, longstanding sites do frequently get compromised so site age is never 100% reliable.

I have no idea why, after all these years, anyone, no matter how desperate in the bedroom department, would click on these links.

It can be $10-15 per pill after insurance in the US, so yeah, cheap boner pills without a prescription? Spammer gold.

As far as Viagra (or, under its generic name, sildenafil citrate) is concerned, the patent on it expired in 2012. Everybody may now produce generic Viagra, and I suppose the costs of actually manufacturing the drug are miniscule compared to the costs necessary to recover R&D - which a generic manufacturer after the expiry of the patent need not worry about. So I suppose much of the “generic viagra” that is sold is indeed legit and not just a placebo.

(Apparently, as I learn from Wiki, Pfizer still holds a patent on the use of the drug to treat erectile dysfunctions, even though not on the drug as such. No problem, you just need to demonstrate to pharmaceuticals regulators that you’re manufacturing and selling the drug to treat other medical conditions with it - what the buyer actually does with it, however, is something you have no control over. And you should try to avoid violating Pfizer’s trademark on the name “Viagra”, which still upholds (pun intended).

Between $17 and $20 a tablet. :eek:

I find all these spam ads to “Increase the size of your p3n1s!” amusing, because while I’m not quite sure what a p3n1s is, it’s a pretty safe bet that I, a woman, do not have one.


WAG - compared to, say, heart meds, insurance companies are more variable in their policies and less likely to pay full price for “lifestyle” drugs and are more likely to limit the number of pills per month. Joe Schmoe is less likely to go shopping online for an Epipen if he can get all he needs for a $5 copay, whereas he is more likely to pay out of pocket (is that an Epipen in your pocket, or are you glad to see me?) for ED drugs.

Interesting. So it all depends on a specific cultural/regulatory combination which sets up which ads are most profitable. Still, this only makes sense if they are actually shipping something. Do they actually ship something?

They do. Here’s a short sample from recent spam: plavix, clopidogrel, motrin, vytorin, valium, nexium, kamagara, xanax, clomid, zantac, ativan, fioricet, levitra, clomipramine, ibtopicsrofen, venlafaxine, effexor, salbutamol, ventolin… basically anything you could name.

Of course, I don’t actually know what most of those are. :slight_smile: It’s just that my spam has mostly headlines the Big Two.

Possibly regulatory bodies are more inclined to investigate cheap unprescribed heart medicine than cheap unprescribed viagra.

To be pedantic about it, Viagra is heart medicine. It was originally developed as a medication to treat pulmonary arterial hypertension, but study subjects reported a rather beneficial side effect. This is why it’s really important you see your doctor and get a proper prescription, as you risk really messing yourself up due to various contraindicated health conditions, etc.

Drugs that are classified as schedule I (like heroin) or schedule II (like anabolic steroids) are much more tightly controlled and not as easy to order online (without a script) as relatively innocuous drugs as ED medications.