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Viagra Successfully Makes the Rx to OTC Switch in the UK

The UK’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) will now allow Viagra to be sold over-the-counter (OTC) without a prescription.  

Viagra Successfully Makes the Rx to OTC Switch in the UK

By: Sarah Hand, M.Sc.

Posted on: in News | Pharmaceutical News

A blockbuster drug is about to hit the shelves of British pharmacies. The UK’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) will now allow Viagra to be sold over-the-counter (OTC) without a prescription.

“This decision is good news for men’s health,” said Mick Foy, MHRA’s Group Manager in Vigilance and Risk Management of Medicines. “The move to make Viagra Connect more widely accessible will encourage men to seek help within the healthcare system and increase awareness of erectile dysfunction.

“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.”

Pfizer’s erectile dysfunction drug will be sold under the name Viagra Connect and will only be available in the 50mg dose of the drug’s active ingredient, sildenafil. The 25mg and 100mg tablets will still be available by prescription.

According to Pfizer, Viagra Connect is the first erectile dysfunction medication to make the switch from a prescription-only product to one available OTC. The pharmaceutical giant expects that Viagra Connect will be available in UK pharmacies starting in spring 2018.

“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,” said Dr. Berkeley Phillips, UK Medical Director for Pfizer. “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 healthcare system.”

While men over the age of 18 will not need a prescription to get this OTC version of Viagra, they’ll still need to have a discussion with their pharmacist to ensure the drug is right for them. According to the MHRA, Viagra Connect will not be sold to individuals with severe cardiovascular disease, among other conditions, as these patients need to be assessed and monitored by a doctor.

One of the drivers behind the regulator’s decision to allow Viagra to be sold OTC, is to limit its sale on the black market. Viagra is one of the most commonly-counterfeited drugs, with over £50 million worth being sized by the MHRA in the past five years.

By increasing the availability of the erectile dysfunction medication, the hope is that men wishing to purchase Viagra will do so through a licensed pharmacy.

“Almost all pharmacies already have a consulting room that is private making it an ‘okay place’ for men to attend,” said Dr. David Edwards, GP and past President of the British Society of Sexual Medicine. “Anything that will deter men from buying ‘dodgy’, often counterfeit drugs without any contact with a healthcare professional, is to be applauded.”

Offering the drug without a prescription could also help boost sales for Viagra, which have been suffering in recent years due to the availability of generics. In the third quarter of 2017, Pfizer reported that sales of Viagra outside the US and Canada had fallen by 30 percent compared to the same period in 2016.


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