Viagra Is Now Available OTC In The UK, Paving The Way For The US To Do The Same

Viagra, available over the counter, is now advertised nightly on British television.

Viagra new packaging in hand
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Viagra, available over the counter, is now advertised nightly on British television.

Viagra has made the leap from prescription to over the counter quickly in Great Britain. The Pfizer drug has been approved for OTC sales, but the rollout was delayed by the drug company who wanted to instruct pharmacists on who is and who isn’t a suitable candidate for the erectile dysfunction drug.

Forbes says that Pfizer is now putting the ultimate decision to use Viagra in the hands of the user with an ad campaign that tells British men that they aren’t alone when it comes to erectile dysfunction problems. In the television commercial posted on YouTube, ED is presented as something that happens to almost everyone.

“4.3 million men in the U.K. experience erectile problems. That’s a lot of men. That’s more men than there are words in this newspaper, in fact. That’s 25 times more men than there are words in the English language.”

The advertisement goes on to say that it’s more words than are in the novels of English writer Charles Dickens (who was ironically paid by the word).

The OTC version of Viagra is called VIAGRAconnect and it is a 50-milligram tablet similar to the original drug which was introduced over 10 years ago. The drug company expects to grow its user base as VIAGRAconnect worked for 74 percent of men who tried it in their pre-launch trials.

VIAGRAconnect is not inexpensive at $88 ($5.50/pill) for 16 pills, and it also comes in a 28 pack. But part of the U.K.’s oversight department’s decision to authorize the transition to OTC was the cost to benefit to risk ratio. Viagra has a long track record of safety, and going over the counter takes the drug off of the NHS or prescription roll, meaning that anyone who uses the drug is now paying out of pocket and not having insurance pick up the tab. Ultimately experts say this will play a role in the decision of the FDA in the U.S. to make Viagra OTC here, too.

And with Brexit looming, men in the U.K. have responded to VIAGRAconnect a bit too well as it is now flying off the shelves and being stockpiled in fear that the supply chain will be damaged as a result of the U.K.’s exit from the EU, says the Mirror.

Zava, a company which provides the drug to customers via mail order to mitigate embarrassment, says that they have had to up the amount of the drug they keep on hand because of the pre-Brexit stockpiling.

Zava chief executive David Meinertz says the company plan is to now carry a four-month supply of VIAGRAconnect.

“We’ve gone through the different medicines we typically prescribe in volumes and looked at various ways of sourcing them to make sure that if it’s really coming to a no-deal or a hard Brexit we’re prepared.”