Viagra to become available in UK pharmacies

The UK is to become the first country where Viagra can be bought over the counter, in an attempt to curtail the trade in unlicensed or counterfeit products.

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency announced that Viagra Connect – containing sildenafil 50mg – will be formally classified from a prescription only drug to a pharmacy medicine.

This makes it available without prescription for use by men over 18 who have erectile dysfunction.

There is a burgeoning black market trade in erectile dysfunction drugs, where criminals have attempted to sell unlicensed or bogus counterfeit drugs.

Over the past 5 years, investigators from MHRA have seized more than £50 million of unlicensed and counterfeit erectile dysfunction medicines.

The MHRA made the decision following a reassuring safety assessment, advice from the Commission on Human Medicine and a public consultation earlier this year.

The medicine will be sold from pharmacies following a discussion with the pharmacist. Pharmacists will be able to determine whether treatment is appropriate for the patient and can give advice on erectile dysfunction, usage of the medicine, potential side effects, and if further consultation with a general practitioner is required.

Viagra Connect will not be sold to those with severe cardiovascular disorders; at high cardiovascular risk; liver failure; severe kidney failure; or taking certain interacting medicines. Use of Viagra Connect in these groups of men must continue to be under the supervision of a doctor.

The MHRA hopes making Viagra more widely available will help direct men who might not otherwise seek help into the healthcare system and away from the risks that come with buying medicines from websites operating illegally.

The MHRA’s Mick Foy

Mick Foy, MHRA’s group manager in vigilance and risk management of medicines, said: “This decision is good news for men’s health. The move to make Viagra Connect more widely accessible will encourage men to seek help within the healthcare system and increase awareness of erectile dysfunction.”

“Erectile dysfunction can be a debilitating condition, so it’s important men feel they have fast access to quality and legitimate care, and do not feel they need to turn to counterfeit online supplies which could have potentially serious side effects.”

Earlier this year, NHS commissioners said that generic versions of Viagra should be prescribed instead of Eli Lilly’s Cialis (tadalafil), in order to reduce costs.

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