Doctors call for Viagra to be more readily available

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Indy Lifestyle Online

Viagra should be more readily available on the NHS in order to counter the trade in fake substitutes, leading doctors have said.

The British Medical Association said the Government should review who is eligible for the drug, used to treat erectile dysfunction, and that doctors should be able to prescribe Viagra and other ED drugs to all patients with a demonstrable clinical need.

Dr Hamish Meldrum, the BMA chairman, said the association had "always been against the rather discriminatory way" in which some patients were able to access the drug while others weren't. He described the current situation as a "rather awful half-way house", resulting in some men being forced to go private and others trying to use the internet to buy pills, some of which can be harmful.

He said: "We are aware that many internet sites are offering it [Viagra] at a price lower than you would get it at the chemist. There are problems with this, the first that you might not actually be getting Viagra. At best it may be an inert substance, at worst a positively dangerous substance."

Another problem was that patients were not running through what other medicines they were using that may clash with the drug. Dr Meldrum emphasised that it was the job of the Government rather than the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence to look at the issue.

"This is really almost a political decision about whether you get it on the NHS. Nobody is arguing about the effectiveness of Viagra or other treatments for erectile dysfunction," he said.

In 1999, the current restrictions on prescribing Viagra and other ED drugs were the subject of controversy before the Health Secretary at the time, Frank Dobson, put limits on those who could gain access to Viagra.

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