There has been a recent development in community pharmacy that may divide opinion amongst readers as well as amongst medical professionals. That is the launch of the over the counter version of the most well-known of the male impotence drugs Viagra.
The imaginatively named Viagra Connect is now available and there were a few aspects of it’s marketing that concerned me. Firstly, the adverts won’t say that you can’t just ask for a pack from off the shelf without having to be asked a series of eligibility questions. They like to leave that bit up to us. Secondly, it is only available in one strength, which may not be the appropriate strength for the patient. Thirdly, the American firm Pfizer who make the drug are hardly famous for their benevolence so these tablets won’t be cheap at roughly £5 per tablet.
Increasing the accessibility of the tablets will hopefully lead to fewer people buying them online and abroad from questionable sources. I once had a patient ask me what I thought of some tablets he had bought in Egypt. The fact that the packaging looked like it had been designed by my two-year old and the tablets were the size and irregular shape of a Brazil nut suggested that there was a possibility that they wouldn’t have the desired effect.
We do hope that the launch does mean that more men will visit the pharmacy and engage in discussions around the potential causes of erectile dysfunction such as diabetes, heart disease, alcohol usage and depression.
We have decided to provide our own solution which we feel will give patients access to the options they need, with a more structured consultation process and fairer price. I will be able to provide all available strengths of the three main oral medications in the category (Sildenafil, Tadalafil and Vardenafil). It will please the patient (and me) to know that a physical examination is not part of the consultation, although as always not every patient will be suitable for supply without seeing their GP. It is important to remember that we have provided these medications on prescription for many years so are aware of the importance of discretion.
We aim to run a drop in service, but during busy times this may not be possible. We have one pharmacist trained to run this service and he must be present for each supply to be made. Subsequent supplies require a much shorter consultation.
All strengths £10 for 4 tablets
2.5mg & 5mg (daily tablets) £20 for 28 tablets
10mg & 20mg £10 for 4 tablets
5mg £20 for 4 tablets
10mg £25 for 4 tablets
20mg £35 for 4 tablets