Blue Pill to be sold over the counter

JOHANNESBURG, CAMBRIDGESHIRE - MAY 15: Crestor (rosuvastatin) drugs made by the pharmaceutical firm AstraZeneca and Viagra made by Pfizer are displayed in a Pharmacy on May 15, 2014 in Johannesburg, South Africa. The proposed takeover by American pharmaceutical giant Pfizer of its British rival AstraZeneca has led to the UK Business Secretary Vince Cable addressing Parliament to affirm the government's commitment to securing British science jobs. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

Men over the age of 18 will be able to buy Viagra over the counter without a prescription after a reclassification.

Health officials announced they were reclassifying Viagra Connect tablets following a public consultation.

The decision by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) means men will be able to buy the tablets containing sildenafil 50mg from their pharmacist if they have erectile dysfunction.

The thinking behind the reclassification is for the drug to be available to men who may not have previously sought help.

The MHRA said pharmacists would be able to determine if the blue pill was appropriate for the patient and could give advice on erectile dysfunction. They could also warn them of potential side effects, advise on how to use the pills and assess whether the patient needs to visit their GP.

However, men with severe heart problem, those at risk of heart conditions, those with liver failure or those taking “interacting medicines” would still need a prescription.

The authority also hopes to steer people away from buying the drug illegally.

Mick Foy, MHRA’s group manager in vigilance and risk management of medicines, said the move was “good news for men’s health”.

He said: “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.”

Drug manufacturer Pfizer is preparing for the launch of Viagra Connect in the spring.

Medical director Dr Berkeley Phillips said: “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.”

Earlier this month, it was revealed that the amount of unlicensed erectile dysfunction drugs seized from overseas smugglers in the UK increased from £2.5m (R34m) in 2012/13 to £17.4m (R257m) in 2016.

Erectile dysfunction drugs now account for 90% of all captured counterfeit drugs.

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