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United Kingdom: Viagra Made Available as Over-the-Counter Medication

(Dec. 12, 2017) The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), an executive agency of the United Kingdom’s Department of Health responsible for regulating medicines, medical devices, and blood transfusion components, recently assessed whether Viagra Connect should become available as an over-the-counter medicine. At the end of November 2017, the results of the assessment were considered, and the MHRA issued a press release announcing that Viagra Connect (sildenafil 50mg) will be reclassified from a prescription-only medication to one that is available over the counter at pharmacies. This means that the drug may be obtained without a prescription from a doctor by men over 18 years of age who have erectile dysfunction. (Medicines & Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency, Public Assessment Report – Prescription Only Medicine to Pharmacy Medicine Reclassification: Viagra Connect 50mg Film-Coated Tablets, Sildenafil Citrate (PL 00165/0392 – 0001, 2017), MHRA website; Press Release, Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency, MHRA Reclassifies Viagra Connect Tablets to a Pharmacy Medicine (Nov. 28, 2017), GOV.UK.)

Since 2006, pharmacists who have taken an additional accredited course and had their entry in the Register of Pharmaceutical Chemists at the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain annotated have been able to provide certain medications over the counter that previously were available only with a prescription from a doctor. (The Medicines for Human Use (Prescribing) (Miscellaneous Amendments) Order 2006, SI 2006/915, LEGISLATION.GOV.UK.)

The rationale behind removing the need for a doctor’s appointment to get a prescription for Viagra Connect was to make the medication more easily available to men who may be reluctant to see a doctor about erectile dysfunction and to help reduce the number of individuals purchasing this drug from unregulated online pharmacies, where counterfeit versions of the medication have often been sold. (Buying Fake Viagra Online ‘Russian Roulette,’  BBC News (video report, Sept. 25, 2017).) The MHRA determined that individuals who suffer from a variety of ailments that Viagra Connect could exacerbate, such as cardiovascular disorders, liver failure, or severe kidney failure, or those taking medications that could result in an adverse interaction need to continue to see a doctor in order to obtain Viagra Connect. (Michelle Roberts, Viagra Can Be Sold Over the Counter, BBC News (Nov. 28, 2017).)