We tried to buy generic Viagra online from Hims and failed — here's how it went down

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For only $US5, the ad promises, we could get one month’s worth of erectile-dysfunction medication.

The ad is for Hims, a men’s-health startup known for selling generic Viagra and medications for hair loss.

In early November, Hims expanded into women’s health with Hers, a brand offering everything from skincare products to birth control.

And it’s not the only one branching out to more areas of medicine.

Simple Contacts, whose first business provides eye exams and ships contact lenses, is moving into birth control. Ro, the startup behind the men’s-health company Roman now wants to help you quit smoking through a new business called Zero. And the company behind the hair-loss brand Keeps last month expanded into migraine treatments.

The approach is getting a lot of attention as investors are wagering that consumers will be increasingly willing to shop for healthcare the same way they buy mattresses or fancy wool sneakers online. To date, Hims has raised $US97 million in funding, including a $US50 million Series B in June. On the whole, the industry has raised $US660 million in the past year.

So we decided to see what it would be like to buy generic Viagra online. And it was unlike any doctor’s visit we’d had before.


When we got to Hims’ website (ForHims.com), we were greeted with four options: hair, sex, skin, and vitals. We decided to start with sex.


Almost immediately, we were able to put sildenafil, the generic form of Viagra, in our shopping cart, much as we might a toothbrush or some makeup.


We then started the process of purchasing the drug. Included in the $US35 price was a $US10 membership fee and a medical fee. (We forgot to put in the promo code.)


Like on any shopping site, we selected our shipping address and put in credit-card details.


With that all filled out, we were ready to go. Here’s where the typical online-shopping experience diverged: Instead of confirming the order and waiting for it to ship, we were asked to start a visit.


First, we had to select a gender.


Then we had to fill out a consent form explaining what we were getting ourselves into — notably, that we were having a telemedicine visit, meaning we wouldn’t be seeing our doctor face-to-face.


Then we started filling out a questionnaire about our medical history. The visit was conducted by Dr. Sajad Zalzala, according to the questions. Because we didn’t want to lie, we left most of our answers blank.


We were asked to provide information about our blood pressure, among other pretty detailed questions about our sexual health.


We were then asked for a photo of our face, as well as a government ID, to verify our identity.


Eventually, we got a confirmation that our order had been placed, alongside a well-placed ad for some of Hims’ other services.


Then we were told what to expect. A doctor would review our results, and then our order would ship.


A few minutes later, we got an email saying our doctor had reviewed our order. Ultimately, the request was rejected by Dr. Kent, as we had left most of the fields blank. We weren’t the only ones — Hims CEO Andrew Dudum told Business Insider that he estimated that 30% to 40% of those coming to the site are rejected.


So we decided to order some gummy supplements to see the process through. A few days later, our package arrived in a discreet white envelope.

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Inside was a box containing the supplements, as well as a free packet of cinnamon-flavored toothpicks.

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The gummies had a consistent branding. The premium packaging gave the product a high-quality feel. The free toothpicks are an old e-commerce trick designed to encourage customers to come back for more.

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Ours contained biotin, a B vitamin associated with hair, skin, and nail health. In 2017, the Food and Drug Administration warned that biotin might interfere with certain lab results.

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Source: National Institutes of Health, FDA


The packaging said to take two a day.

Hollis Johnson/Business Insider

Much to our surprise, they tasted good. It was hard to eat just two.

Hollis Johnson/Business Insider

With the launch of Hers, Hims has the potential to tap into women’s health and wellness as well. The company has described the brand as “Hims’ more refined, badass older sister,” which might make the experience of ordering through that site a bit different from the men’s version.

Hollis Johnson/Business Insider

Source: Business Insider

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