Viagra now available over the counter in UK pharmacies

Viagra now available over the counter in UK pharmacies

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Men seeking Viagra will no longer need to get a prescription from their GP after health officials reclassified a drug.

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) announced that it is reclassifying Viagra Connect tablets so they can be sold over the counter in pharmacies. This means that men over the age of 18 will be able to obtain Viagra Connect, containing sildenafil 50mg, from their pharmacist if they have erectile dysfunction.

The decision to reclassify the drug follows a public consultation. It is hoped that making the drug more widely available will mean that men who may have not previously sought help will be more likely to do so. The decision means that the medicine can be sold from pharmacies following a discussion with the pharmacist, the MHRA said.

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 assess if further consultation with a general practitioner is required.

But some men, including those with severe heart problems, those at high risk of heart problems, liver failure, kidney failure or those taking certain “interacting medicines”, will still need to be prescribed the drug under the supervision of a doctor.

Officials hope the move will also help steer people away from buying drugs websites operating illegally.
The MHRA said that erectile dysfunction medicines are a “popular target” for criminals selling unlicensed and counterfeit medicines, over the past five years the Agency has seized more than £50m of unlicensed and counterfeit erectile dysfunction medicines.

“This decision is good news for men’s health,” said Mick Foy, MHRA’s group manager in vigilance and risk management of medicines. “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.”

It is the first time Viagra has been made available over the counter. Manufacturer Pfizer said it is currently working on plans for the launch of Viagra Connect in the UK in the spring of 2018.

Dr Berkeley Phillips, UK medical director at Pfizer, said: “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.

“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.”

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