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Viagra

Viagra

Why was Viagra prescription only?

It was 20 years ago this year that Viagra became available on prescription as a treatment for erectile dysfunction. It also sparked a massively lucrative black market for illegal sales of this little blue pill. Seventeen million pounds worth of imitation and unlicensed Viagra being confiscated by the UK authorities in 2016 alone, shows the extent of this illegal trade.

In today’s high-pressure world, the number of men, especially over 40, who suffer the odd bout of stress-related impotence, is increasing. However, if the erectile dysfunction is ongoing, or regularly recurring, it could point to some more serious underlying cause. It was for this reason Viagra could only be acquired on prescription. It gave doctors the chance to talk to the patient, point out possible side effects, and if needed, carry out more in-depth tests to determine other possible causes, and suggest treatments.

A thriving black market

Even in these ‘enlightened’ times, a lot of men still feel embarrassed about discussing their lack of ability to raise or maintain an erection. They choose instead, to buy from the internet or their local street corner Viagra dealer, with all the associated risks of purchasing fake or dangerous products, at highly inflated prices.  For anyone suffering from erectile dysfunction they are not alone and that there is a better way than black market websites.

But it wasn’t just embarrassed men who fuelled the black market popularity of this drug. It was also discovered that normally functioning men could achieve harder, stronger, and longer lasting erections after taking Viagra.

Everyone from young singles, husbands or partners who wished to spice up a waning love life, to gays, swingers and sexual athletes, wanted a piece of the action. Knowing they were unlikely to get a doctor’s prescription under these circumstances – the Viagra black market was up and running.

Why Viagra became non-prescription

Now, 20 years on, the UK is to become the first country to move Viagra from being a prescription drug to an over-the-counter drug. From this year you will be able to walk into your local chemist and buy Viagra as you would Aspirin, Disprin or cough syrup, with one proviso.

You have to speak to the duty pharmacist. He/she will then decide whether it is suitable, or whether in your own interest, a doctor’s appointment should be made for a more in-depth analysis.

Common Health conditions linked to Erectile Dysfunction

The average age of heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and prostate cancer are being diagnosed in men is dropping. All of them can be instrumental in causing erectile dysfunction and the sooner anyone with these problems is detected and treated, the better the prognosis for a successful recovery. It is hoped by using the pharmacy approach, many of those who regularly buy from the internet or elsewhere will be more inclined to buy from a legitimate source. With the pharmacist being able to ask a few basic screening questions, more men with early symptoms of more serious underlying problems will be pinpointed, and treatment started much earlier than it otherwise might have been.

If you suffer from erectile dysfunction, you’re not on your own. In 2016, almost three million prescriptions for Viagra have issued in the UK alone. Add to that the millions of pounds worth buying on the internet and you begin to realise, it’s a much more common problem than you think.

Source: BBC Health, Gaudian, NHS