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Pfizer, the maker of Viagra, has declared war on spammers and online pharmacies, illegally peddling pills under the Viagra brand. The company says it will pursue the offending persons and organisations in court. It is taking the action after its market research revealed that a quarter of men think Pfizer is the source of spam emails advertising the drug.

The company is suing five websites for trademark infringement and is seeking to seize the domain names of other sites selling 'generic' Viagra pills. It says there is no such things as a generic version of its product, because the no other company is licensed to sell sildenafil citrate, the chemical name for Viagra.

It is understandable that Pfizer want to protect the Viagra brand: last year it reported global revenue of $1.9bn from sales of the drug.

The company says it also wants to raise awareness of the dangers of unlicensed medication: it said the drug was not the appropriate treatment for all cases of impotence should only be taken after consultation with a doctor. It warned that impotence has many causes, and that taking Viagra could even exacerbate some of these.

"Pfizer is taking these steps to help raise consumer awareness about the problems posed by illegitimate online 'pharmacies' and to directly address the source of these problems," said Jeff Kindler, legal spokesman for Pfizer told the BBC®

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