Erectile dysfunction is a problem many men feel too embarrassed to talk about but progress will be made thanks to the first ever pharmacy medicine without prescription…


Community pharmacies all over the UK are in an even stronger position to help people looking to improve their sex lives now that the first medicine for erectile dysfunction has been made available without prescription.

The availability of Sildenafil, brand name Viagra Connect, in pharmacies is sure to drive more people through their doors. The product was introduced in Boots pharmacies first, to the chagrin of National Pharmacy Association chairman Ian Strachan who accused manufacturer Pfizer of giving preferential treatment to the multiple chain over independents, who were finally able to stock Viagra Connect from April 11.

Pharmacists however are now supplying the treatment which can be provided after the pharmacist has undertaken a consultation with the patient about erectile dysfunction. The pills are priced at £19.99 for a four-pack or £34.99 for an eight-pack.

Its introduction without prescription is a welcome relief for millions who suffer from impotence. The condition is particularly common in men over 40 and according to Kantar TNS erectile dysfunction affects 4.3 million men in the UK.

Significantly, research carried out by Opinium found that 44% of men with erectile dysfunction aged 40 and over have not sought medical help.

“Having sildenafil available in pharmacies will increase access to a medicine that has been proven safe and effective through over 15 years of use by many millions of men and provides a genuine and safe supply of one of the world’s most counterfeited medicines,” said Royal Pharmaceutical Society president Ash Soni.

“Discussing health problems with patients and advising on the benefits and risks of treatments is integral to the role of the pharmacist. Men can be assured that well over 90% of pharmacies have private consultation areas, meaning conversations cannot be overheard.

“One of the underlying causes of erectile dysfunction is cardiovascular disease, so this move will bring more men into the healthcare system where they can get proper advice and onward referral if necessary.”

Richard Bradley, pharmacy director at Boots UK, said: “We believe this is a great step in making this medicine more widely available to our customers.”

He added: “Pharmacists are highly trained healthcare professionals and discussing health problems with customers and advising on the benefits and risks of treatment options is an integral part of their role.

“This launch further expands the role of community pharmacy and we hope that it will play a part in reducing pressures on the overall healthcare system. Erectile dysfunction can have a big impact on confidence and relationships, so we hope providing better and convenient access to this treatment will help encourage men to seek help via a simple, discreet consultation in store.”

Pfizer launched a training programme for Viagra Connect which included e-learning modules, educational events and digital training.

The benefits of making Viagra Connect available without prescription
• It will give pharmacists the chance to use their clinical expertise face-to-face with patients.
• More men with erectile dysfunction (ED) can gain access to support.
• Men will be less likely to turn to unlicensed websites for potentially harmful treatments.
• Viagra will be regulated more effectively and safely in the UK.
• It will reduce the pressure on doctors who won’t need to prescribe medication for ED.

Erectile dysfunction at a glance

• Around half of all men who have diabetes suffer from erectile dysfunction.
• If a man smokes more than one packet of cigarettes a day he will have a 50% higher chance of erectile problems than a non-smoker.
• Men over the age of 75 have a 77.5% chance of suffering from erectile problems.
• Men between the age of 20 and 29 only have a 6.5% chance of having erectile problems.
• It is thought erectile dysfunctions cause the breakdown of 20% of all relationships.
• Only 33% of men who have erectile dysfunctions seek help and advice.
• Underlying health issues such as diabetes or heart disease account for 70% of all erectile dysfunction cases.

Source: UK Health Centre