Viagra Corner: Despatches from the Frontiers of Medicine

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The Independent Online
NEARLY HALF of family doctors in the UK will have attended a new impotence treatment course by next year because of the Viagra craze, it has been estimated.

Already 250 GPs have attended the first sessions launched in the past month by a team of specialists. By the middle of next year, 15,000 will have attended the training programme and will be able to offer the new treatment.

The aim of the Erectile Dysfunction in Primary Care (EDiPC) course is to prepare family doctors to help men with impotence as new, easier to administer treatments become available.

The frenetic publicity surrounding Viagra has been a major driving force behind the new initiative. GPs who previously referred patients with erectile problems to specialists, are suddenly having to cope with a huge demand for the new drug.

The training programme, which was developed by a team of 14 impotence experts, including GPs, and reviewed by a panel of more than 40 medical professionals, gives doctors practical information about erectile dysfunction and its treatment.

The programme is based on a "cascade" approach whereby newly-trained GPs pass on knowledge to their colleagues.

"Prior to becoming involved in the EDiPC training programme, my normal practice was to refer sufferers of ED to the local urologist," said Dr Peter Shaw, from Maidenhead, Berkshire.

"I now realise that, in most men, it is a relatively easy condition to diagnose and manage and can be one of the most rewarding to treat."

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