Viagra Connect® now available from your pharmacy

Viagra Connect is the first genuine non-prescrip­tion sildenafil medicine available anywhere in the World.

Viagra®, made by Pfizer Ltd, must be one of the best known medicines in the history of medicine. Is there anyone who hasn’t heard of Viagra® or doesn’t know what it’s used for, or even its shape and colour? Viagra® has become part of our popular culture, like Hoover® and Teflon®, and is the punchline to many a joke and innuendo. But the reality is no joke for the millions of couples who have relied on this medicine for a healthy sex life.

Viagra® contains the generic medicine sildenafil and was launched twenty years ago in 1998. It was the first oral medication for erectile dysfunction (ED). Prior to this, treatments consisted of rather obtrusive and mechanical vacuum pumps, or some frankly eye-watering injections. These treatments still have their place, but this discrete and effective ‘little blue pill’ took the market by storm.

Viagra® was quickly made available on the NHS, although restricted to men with certain health problems, and it transformed the whole concept of ED. It became something that could be talked about openly with your doctor and with a simple treatment available to help. Nowadays, there are more than 3 million prescrip­tions dispensed for sildenafil each year, alongside several other ‘me too’ variants like Cialis® and Levitra®.

But in the age of the internet, Viagra® became a victim of its own success. Probably because of embar­ras­sment or stigma still being felt by men, it was perhaps easier just to buy it online than go and speak to your doctor. The internet is awash with adverts and it doesn’t take much of a search to find endless online retailers selling ‘Viagra’ or equivalent ‘herbal’ or natural products.

But none of these products are regulated or tested for safety; if they do contain sildenafil there is no quality assurance, and if they don’t contain it – who knows what toxic chemicals you could be taking? Counterfeit or adulterated products are flooding in and it is so popular as a recreational drug that an enormous black market now exists for it. Some sources put the value of counterfeit ED drugs seized by UK authorities at nearly £50million in the past five years. How much more has actually gotten through to consumers?

Enter, Viagra Connect®, which has just launched as the first licensed ‘over-the-counter’ sildenafil product. This is the first time anywhere in the World that sildenafil can be bought legally and safely without a doctor’s prescrip­tion. Just like any other Pharmacy medicine it has gone through rigorous safety testing to guarantee the contents of each tablet. And by making it a Pharmacy only medicine there is always a healthcare professional overseeing the sale and giving advice on using the medicine safely.

It will probably still be cheaper (for the individual) to see your doctor and get generic sildenafil on prescrip­tion. But for those men in genuine need, who are embarrassed or who want to manage ED by themselves, there is now a safe alternative to online roulette. You will still need to answer some questions about your health and follow the advice of the pharmacist. And always buy your medicines from a genuine internet pharmacy that is registered with the General Pharma­ce­utical Council.

Read our guide to buying Viagra Connect®; who can take it? Who shouldn’t take it? When should you see your doctor?

This medical information was written by our clinical pharmacist Michael Stewart.

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