Characteristics of direct-to-consumer platforms offering erectile dysfunction treatment.

Due to the sensitivity and potential embarrassment of discussing erectile dysfunction (ED) in person, men are seeking treatment online.

We sought to compare offerings of direct-to-consumer (DTC) platforms for ED treatment with respect to consultation, pricing, services, and privacy policy.

Google was queried to identify DTC platforms offering ED treatment with the keywords: "telehealth erectile dysfunction," "telemedicine erectile dysfunction," and "online erectile dysfunction." Inclusion criteria were as follows: serving a majority of U.S. states, existing online only, providing both the consultation and prescription for phosphodiesterase type 5 inhibitors, and delivering the prescription to the patient.

Fifteen DTC platforms met criteria. Ten provided free consultations; 4 bundled the consultation fee with the first month of the prescription, with 1 of these functioning as a subscription service. Fourteen (93%) relied on online intake forms and 10 (67%) advertised review by the prescriber within 2 business days. Only 4 (27%) platforms explicitly advertised physician-only consults. Direct contact with the prescriber would only occur if needed or if required by state law at 8 (53%) platforms. Purchasing sildenafil and tadalafil was advertised on all platforms. Minimum prices of sildenafil ranged from $0.50 to $35/pill (mean $5.16/pill, median $2.65/pill); tadalafil ranged from $0.50 to $9.80/pill (mean $4.70/pill, median $3.21/pill). In addition to ED therapy, 13 (86%) platforms offered treatment for other men's health issues. All platforms included a website privacy policy, but only 10 (67%) mentioned Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act compliance, with 2 of these claiming to not be covered entities.

Although DTC platforms are transparent with phosphodiesterase type 5 inhibitor medication and subscription pricing information, few offer direct contact with a physician to further discuss issues related to ED after completion of the online intake form. For comprehensive evaluation of ED in Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act-compliant settings, in-person or telemedicine visits should be arranged with men's physicians.

Sexual medicine. 2023 Aug 02*** epublish ***

Sarah M Brink, Teona Iarajuli, David Shin

Department of Urology, Hackensack University Medical Center, 360 Essex Street, Suite 403, Hackensack, NJ 07601, United States., Department of Urology, Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine, 123 Metro Boulevard, Suite 4100, Nutley, NJ 07110, United States.