Islington set are hardened users of Viagra

Islington, the district of north London known for the enlightened attitudes of its residents, has now emerged as the British capital of another favourite dinner party topic: Viagra.

The borough and its neighbour Camden were the highest spenders on the impotence cure, Department of Health figures showed yesterday. The local health authority spent £1,946 for every 1,000 men in the year to April. Manchester was close behind, spending £1,933 per 1,000 men.

Health experts said high spending was linked to the extent to which impotence was not seen as a taboo by doctors and patients. Ann Taylor, of the Impotence Association, said: "There are still wide variations in access to impotence treatments ... Some men find their doctors refuse to prescribe Viagra or other treatments to them.

"Camden and Islington have been very proactive. They produced a leaflet telling doctors and patients about treatments and maybe helped to dispel some of the taboo."

The data gives little clue as to "recreational" use of Viagra, obtained on private prescription for about £10 a tablet to improve sexual performance.

Use of the drug could soar soon if the Medicines Control Agency approves its sale over the counter in pharmacies. The Royal Pharmaceutical Society has recommended that the prescription-only rule for Viagra be scrapped.

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