Rise in number of men in South East London being prescribed Viagra

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South East London has seen a rise in the number of erectile dysfunction drugs being prescribed to men, figures show.

The Royal College of GPs said increased awareness and less stigma surrounding the disease may have contributed to an increase in the number of prescriptions being issued across England.

Figures from the Open Prescribing Service show that 105,659 prescriptions for erectile dysfunction drugs were dispensed in the former NHS South East London CCG area in the year to June.

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This is a 2% increase from 104,078 the previous year and more than 108,980 in 2017-18 when the numbers began.

These figures correspond to the number of times drugs appeared on prescriptions, but do not indicate the quantity of drugs administered, and several prescriptions can be given to the same patient.

Across England, erectile dysfunction drugs appeared on 4.35 million prescriptions in the year to June, up from 4.30 million in 2020-21 and 4.33 in 2017-18 .

The vast majority of these prescriptions are for sildenafil, which patients can get on the NHS if they suffer from erectile dysfunction.

If you buy sildenafil outside the NHS it may also be known by the brand names Viagra, Aronix, Liberize and Nipatra.

The Royal College of General Practitioners said there are likely to be a variety of reasons why prescriptions for erectile dysfunction drugs are increasing.

Prof Martin Marshall, RCGP Chairman, said: “This may indicate a decrease in stigma around erectile dysfunction and increased awareness of its treatments, as well as patients feeling more comfortable seeking treatment.

“One of the most well-known drugs – sildenafil, widely known as Viagra – has also been ‘out of licence’ in recent years, making it cheaper.”

The cost to the NHS of erectile dysfunction drugs nationwide has fallen from £42.6m in the 12 months to June 2018 to just £16.1m last year.

In south-east London, it rose from £1.2m to £535,000 over that period.

Prof Marshall said GPs follow strict guidelines when prescribing generic sildenafil and will only issue an NHS prescription if there is a list of specific medical reasons for doing so.

He added, “Erectile dysfunction can be a concerning condition for many men that can impact patients’ mental health and limit their ability to have healthy sex.”

Across England, there were the equivalent of 20 ED prescriptions for every 100 men aged 18 and over in the country last year.

Rates ranged from 36 per 100 adult men in Blackpool to just 14 per 100 in North West London.

In July, Clinical Commissioning Groups were abolished and replaced by Integrated Care Councils across England.

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