England

Viagra on NHS 'should be limited to two pills a month'

Viagra
Image caption The committee recommended limiting prescriptions to two Viagra pills a month

Viagra prescriptions should be limited to two pills a month, according to new recommendations by NHS managers.

GPs are being urged to limit prescriptions of erectile dysfunction drugs under new guidelines from The South Central Priorities Committee.

The document also advised against counselling for sexual problems.

The recommendations cover health trusts in Milton Keynes, Oxfordshire, Berkshire East, Berkshire West and Buckinghamshire.

Cost-effectiveness

They appear in a document from the priorities committee in which GPs are urged to apply the two-tablet limit to prescriptions for the erectile dysfunction drugs sildenafil (Viagra), vardenafil (Levitra) and tadalafil (Cialis).

It said the committee had "considered the evidence of clinical and cost-effectiveness and the financial impact on the health economy of treatment for erectile dysfunction".

That is despite existing NHS guidance saying there "appears to be no clinical reason to restrict the number of tablets" of Viagra prescribed to an individual.

Erectile dysfunction drugs are already restricted on the NHS to people suffering from conditions such as diabetes, prostate cancer, spinal injury, Parkinson's disease, spina bifida, multiple sclerosis and polio.

"Psychosexual interventions such as counselling and psychotherapy comprise a group of techniques with limited evidence for effectiveness and no evidence of cost-effectiveness," it stated.

A spokesperson for NHS Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire said the committee "cannot prohibit prescribing but will form a recommendation to GPs."

Richard Hoey, editor of GP magazine, Pulse, said: "Limiting patients to drugs like Viagra just twice a month is to treat sex like an unnecessary luxury, and completely fails to recognise the degree of anguish it can cause some men with erectile dysfunction."

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