The famous male potency drug just became more accessible in Britain.

Image credits: Tim Reckmann.

Pfizer’s Viagra was the first prescription erectile dysfunction drug to market, in the late 1990s. Now, the UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (the rough equivalent of a British FDA) has decided that the drug will now be sold over the counter. The main idea behind this decision is that people won’t need to visit their general practitioner to talk about their impotence — a talk that’s often so embarrassing and unpleasant that many men skip it altogether, even if it means further displeasure down the line. Another aspect which tipped the balance is that many men were already buying Viagra from illegally-operating websites. Mick Foy, MHRA’s group manager in vigilance and risk management of medicines, said:

“This decision is good news for men’s health. Erectile dysfunction can be a debilitating condition, so it’s important men feel they have fast access to quality and legitimate care, and do not feel they need to turn to counterfeit online supplies which could have potentially serious side-effects.”

Now, it will be up to pharmacists to decide whether it is appropriate to sell Viagra or not. The drug will not be available to:

  • those with severe heart disease or at high risk of cardiovascular disease;
  • those with liver failure;
  • those with severe kidney failure;
  • men taking certain medicines that could cause a bad reaction when combined with Viagra.

They don’t often talk about it, but most men have experienced an erectile problem at least once in their life. Leading causes are stress, tiredness, anxiety, or drinking too much alcohol. However, this isn’t really a health problem unless it starts to happen regularly, at which point men can choose to talk to a doctor or self-medicate. Men who take Viagra are advised to take a 50 mg tablet an hour before having sex and never take more than one a day.

Viagra achieved peak sales of more than $2 billion in 2012 but since then, sales have declined as patents have started to expire, Pfizer to explore extending its brand value as a non-prescription drug. At this point, Viagra is the most popular erectile dysfunction medicine and the only one to be reclassified from “prescription only medicine” to “pharmacy” status in Britain.

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