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

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

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Hollis Johnson/Business Insider

For only $5, the ad promises, we could get one month’s worth of erectile dysfunction medication.

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

In early November, Hims expanded into women’s health with the brand Hers, offering everything from skin care to birth control. And it’s not the only one branching out into 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 men’s health company Roman now wants to help you quit smoking through a new business called Zero. And the company behind hair-loss brand Keeps in October expanded into migraine treatments.

It’s an approach that’s 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 $97 million in funding, including a $50 million series B raised in June. On a whole, the industry has raised $660 million in the past year.

So we decided to try it for ourselves and see what it would be like to attempt to buy generic Viagra online. What we saw was unlike any doctor’s visit we’d had before.


When we got to Hims’ website (Forhims.com), we were greeted by four different options. We decided to start with sex.

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Hims screenshot

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

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Hims screenshot

We then started on the process of purchasing the drug. Included in the $30 price was a $10 membership fee as well as a medical fee. All-in, it cost us $35 because we forgot to put in the promo code.

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Hims screenshot

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

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Hims screenshot

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.

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Hims screenshot

First, we had to select a gender.

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Hims screenshot

Then, there was a consent form to fill out, listing what we were getting ourselves into — notably, that we were having a telemedicine visit, which meant we wouldn’t be seeing our doctor face-to-face.

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Screenshot

Then we started filling out a questionnaire about our medical history. The visit was conducted by Dr. Sajad Zalzala, according to the questions. We left most of our answers blank for the purposes of simply seeing what the process was like.

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Hims screenshot

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

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Hims screenshot

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

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Hims screenshot

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

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Hims screenshot

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

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Hims screenshot

Only a few minutes later, we got an email that our doctor had reviewed our order. Ultimately, our order request was rejected by Dr. Kent (a different name than we’d seen on the questionnaire) — we had left most of our fields blank. We weren’t the only ones rejected — Hims CEO Andrew Dudum told Business Insider that he estimates the site rejects 30-40% of those coming to the site.

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Hims screenshot

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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Hollis Johnson/Business Insider

Inside was a box containing the supplements, as well as a free packet of toothpicks that had a cinnamon flavor.

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Hollis Johnson/Business Insider

Inside, the gummies had a consistent branding. The packaging felt premium and 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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Hollis Johnson/Business Insider

Source: National Institutes of Health, FDA


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

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Hollis Johnson/Business Insider

The packaging called for two to be taken a day.

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Hollis Johnson/Business Insider

We decided to taste them, and much to our surprise, they tasted good. It was hard to eat just two.

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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 at launch described the brand as “Hims’ more refined, badass older sister,” which might make the experience of ordering through the site a bit different from the men’s version.

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Hollis Johnson/Business Insider

Source: Business Insider

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