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Calls to make erectile dysfunction drugs available to men over the counter

Photo: Calls to improve access to Viagra in Aust
There is a push for Australia to follow the UK's lead and make Viagra available to men over the counter.

There are calls for Viagra and similar erectile dysfunction drugs to be made available to Australian men without the need for a prescription.

Viagra will be made available over the counter in the United Kingdom from next year, and some experts say Australia should do the same.

Clinical psychologist Mr Matt Tilley from the Department of Sexology at Curtin University says providing easier access would reduce the risk of men turning to the internet to buy "inferior, counterfeit" products.

"If people are experiencing erectile dysfunction (ED) and they are getting benefit from medication and then purchasing it themselves over the internet there's no safeguard around the quality of that medication," Mr Tilley told AAP.
"When we look at a process of making a product like Viagra available over the counter then that hopefully mitigates that they are consuming and purchasing an inferior product."

While a cautious approach would be needed, Mr Tilley believes the "pros outweigh" the cons on this important sexual health issue.

It's a call supported by the Australian Self-Medication Industry, which claims Australian men with ED are being left behind.

"In New Zealand, men suffering erectile dysfunction have been able to buy the sildenafil product Silvasta from specially trained pharmacists without a prescription from a GP since October 2014," the ASMI said in a statement.

The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) in July rejected a proposal to amend the scheduling of sildenafil - the active ingredient in ED medications such as Viagra - to Schedule 3 (Pharmicist-only).

Following a review, the TGA said that any benefits of improved access for consumers were "outweighed by the risk of improper diagnosis or treatment" of erectile dysfunction.

One of the TGA's concerns was the risk that many men with ED would never go to their doctor for ongoing assessment.

"The delegate did not agree that the risks associated with use of non-prescription sildenafil by men with erectile dysfunction (ED) who have other conditions are low, and can be managed within the pharmacy setting," a TGA statement said.

The TGA also noted there was increasing evidence of a direct link between erectile dysfunction and cardiovascular disease.

"Good clinical practice requires a cardiovascular assessment and history in all patients presenting with erectile dysfunction. This is best done by a patient's general practitioner," the TGA said in the statement.


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