Impotence drug Sildenafil still being rationed on the NHS
3rd September 2014
coupleNearly all of us undoubtedly love sex. Besides the obvious fact that sex is quite clearly fun, it can even have health benefits in the form of being a stress and tension buster, and regular sex can even help people to lose weight as it is a great form of exercise. However, how would you like to be told how much sex you can actually engage in on a weekly or monthly basis? Instantly negating the exciting and spontaneous nature of sex, it could force couples to plan when to have sex if they are rationed to a specific number of times. It sounds absurd, but this is what NHS bosses have been accused of doing – ‘rationing’ the amount of times men suffering with erectile dysfunction (ED) can have sex. It is no wonder then that Medical Specialists® Pharmacy continue to have many thousands of men with ED coming to us seeking treatment for the condition. Apparently, doctors have been informed they should not be prescribing more than one single pill of ‘generic’ Viagra per week to each patient that comes to them regarding their impotence problems. The ridiculously strict limit was passed on despite the fact a pack of four pills costs the NHS as little as £1.45, or 36p a tablet. With Pfizer (Viagra’s manufacturer) losing its UK patent in 2013, it is now legal for certain drug companies to produce their own impotence treatments that also contain sildenafil – Viagra’s active ingredient. As what happens with increased competition in any market, the price has drastically decreased with regards to sildenafil, prompting the Department of Health to scrap regulations on the prescribing of sildenafil, ergo allowing most men with ED to be eligible for sildenafil on the NHS. Health bosses seem to have become worried by this though, in particularly the financial impact it could have. One letter was recently sent to doctors in the West Midlands by managers at NHS Telford and Wrekin Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) calling for GPs to restrict their prescribing of sildenafil. The letter stated: “In light of the pressure on NHS budgets, patients who are eligible for NHS treatment should be prescribed the lowest effective dose, with a maximum frequency of ONE tablet per week (i.e. FOUR per MONTH).” Dr Martin Duerden, a GP based in North Wales who advises the Royal College of General Practitioners on prescribing, replied back: “Can we ration sex in this way? Prescriptions for sildenafil have no restrictions and each person should be assessed as individuals – some will need more, some less.”