Viagra Corner: Dispatches from the Frontiers of Medicine

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The Independent Online
FAMILY DOCTORS will be advised to carry on prescribing Viagra on the NHS by their professional body if Frank Dobson, Secretary of State for Health, fails to lift a ban on the anti-impotence drug within a month.

Following fears that the NHS would not be able to afford to meet demand for the drug, ministers ordered doctors in September to stop prescribing the drug on the NHS.

The British Medical Association's GP committee decided last night to give Mr Dobson a month in which to produce new advice, or they will issue their own guidance to GPs to carry on prescribing Viagra on the NHS.

The BMA is concerned that the ban, imposed by Mr Dobson on 14 September, breaks GPs' terms of contract to provide care on the NHS.

"We discussed issuing advice today but we gave Mr Dobson another month. Our advice is to ignore the Government's guidance and to carry on prescribing Viagra where clinically appropriate," said a BMA source.

The Department of Health expects to release fresh guidance in January which is likely to allow GPs to carry on prescribing.

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