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Pfizer's Viagra Connect becomes first erectile dysfunction drug available over-the-counter in UK

Published on 29/11/17 at 10:47am
Image credit: Tim.Reckmann

Pfizer has revealed that its erectile dysfunction treatment Viagra Connect (sildenafil) will now be available without a prescription through UK pharmacies, thanks to a decision by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) to reclassify the drug.

The decision, which was made in consultation with the public, makes Pfizer’s drug the first such treatment to be available over the counter. The pharma giant said that it is currently planning to launch the treatment in Spring 2018, and will engage in extensive training and education programmes with pharmacies in the period until this date.

Once it is made available, patients wishing to purchase Viagra Connect will be required to answer questions from their pharmacist on their symptoms, general health and other medications they are currently taking. The pharmacist will then determine whether the treatment is suitable for them. Pfizer is advising pharmacists to ask users to follow up with their doctor within six months of first taking the product to investigate any potential underlying causes or risk factors associated with erectile dysfunction.

“The availability of Viagra Connect in pharmacies from next year will offer men who are eligible for the product a new and convenient way to access sildenafil, a commonly prescribed treatment for erectile dysfunction,” remarked Berkeley Phillips, UK Medical Director at Pfizer. “We understand some men may avoid seeking support and treatment for this condition, so we believe giving them the option to talk to a pharmacist and buy Viagra Connect could be a real step forward in encouraging more men into the healthcare system. As erectile dysfunction may be a sign of an underlying condition such as diabetes, high blood pressure, or heart disease, there could also be a wider benefit to public health in the long term. We hope that this forthcoming new opportunity to purchase a genuine treatment via pharmacy will also reduce the likelihood of men turning to potentially ineffective and dangerous counterfeits from illicit sources.”

General Practitioner Dr David Edwards, a specialist in sexual dysfunction and past President of the British Society of Sexual Medicine also commented: “In my clinical experience a man’s ability to attain and maintain an erection is of paramount importance to him. When erection difficulties do occur, emotional and physical closeness between a man and his partner can diminish, leaving a man with a sense of isolation and lacking confidence in day to day life. 

"A new initiative that enables men to go to a pharmacy to get help for their ED is welcome," he continued. "The Royal Pharmaceutical Society has pointed out that pharmacists are ideally placed to handle conversations with men about the condition. Almost all pharmacies already have a consulting room that is private making it an ‘okay place’ for men to attend. Anything that will deter men from buying ‘dodgy’, often counterfeit drugs without any contact with a healthcare professional, is to be applauded.”

Matt Fellows

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