Pharmaceutical

UK men to get Viagra without prescription

viagra UK men to get Viagra without prescriptionLast week the UK announced that it would make Viagra available over the counter. It is the first country where men will be able to obtain the erectile dysfunction drug without a prescription. Men should be able to purchase Viagra Connect in pharmacies in the spring of 2018. It is hoped that this move will counteract the proliferation of illicit counterfeit ED drugs, which are unregulated and often contain dangerous ingredients.

According to Pharmaceutical Processing, the U.K.’s Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has reclassified Viagra Connect, which comes in a dose of 50mg and in a maximum pack size of eight tablets, from Prescription Only Medicine (POM) to Pharmacy (P) status. Other drugs in the UK are classified General Sales List (GSL) and available at retail stores, but for men to acquire Viagra Connect they will still need to be assessed by a pharmacist specifically trained and educated to be able to identify Viagra’s suitability for those who have self-diagnosed ED symptoms.

We previously reported that 10 years ago Pfizer applied to the European Medicines Agency (EMA) for non-prescription status of Viagra, but the agency had concerns that in bypassing the need for a prescription from a general practitioner (GP), men whose symptoms would have led to diagnosis of cardiovascular disease might self-diagnose and treat ED symptoms over-the-counter, missing the underlying more serious disease. The agency also expressed concern over the potential spike in recreational use of Viagra that might result from changing its availability in this way.

The Pharmaceutical Journal suggested that pharmacists’ training should include recognizing patients whose ED symptoms might be caused by other factors, especially cardiovascular disease, but also mental health issues such as anxiety and depression, or alcohol abuse. They will be solely responsible for managing Viagra’s potential risks to patients.

Some side effects of Viagra include rashes, hypotension, facial flushing, urinary tract infection. diarrhea, back pain, nasal congestion, blurred vision, suicidal tendencies, mental disorders, dilation of the blood vessels, increased heart rate, fainting and low blood pressure. It can cause harmful interactions when taken at the same time as other drugs.

Viagra has also been shown by multiple studies to increase risk of melanoma, the most deadly form of skin cancer. In fact last year the United States’ regulatory agency, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), announced that it was investigating the association between Viagra and other PDE-5 inhibitors and melanoma and the potential need for regulatory action.

The Conversation AU suggested that if Australia were to follow the UK’s lead, some steps pharmacists might be required to take before prescribing Viagra would be to check the patient’s blood pressure as well as the patient’s history for previous Viagra use; risk factors such as heart, liver or kidney problems; alcohol use, encouraging moderate intake when using the drug; and possible drug interactions for example with blood-pressure-lowering medicines or boceprevir, a medicine used in the treatment of hepatitis C.

“The availability of Viagra Connect in pharmacies from next year will offer men who are eligible for the product a new and convenient way to access sildenafil, a commonly prescribed treatment for erectile dysfunction,” Dr. Berkeley Phillips, U.K. medical director at Pfizer Ltd., said in a press statement. “We understand some men may avoid seeking support and treatment for this condition so we believe giving them the option to talk to a pharmacist and buy Viagra Connect could be a real step forward in encouraging more men into the health care system.

“As erectile dysfunction may be a sign of an underlying condition such as diabetes, high blood pressure, or heart disease, there could also be a wider benefit to public health in the long term,” Phillips continued. “We hope that this forthcoming new opportunity to purchase a genuine treatment via pharmacy will also reduce the likelihood of men turning to potentially ineffective and dangerous counterfeits from illicit sources.”

Sources:
Pharmaceutical Processing
The Pharmaceutical Journal
Righting Injustice
The Conversation AU