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Viagra access "must be improved"

Viagra access "must be improved"

If more men were given access to Viagra on the NHS, the trade in fake medicines would slow down, according to doctors' leaders.

The British Medical Association (BMA) has called on the Government to look again at who is eligible for drugs to treat erectile dysfunction (ED).

Chairman Dr Hamish Meldrum said the BMA had "always been against the rather discriminatory way" in which some patients got Viagra and others did not.

He said there is currently a "half-way house" where some men are treated while others are denied help, which forces some patients to turn to the internet to buy pills that could be fake or harmful.

He said: "We are aware that many internet sites are offering it (Viagra) at a price lower than you would get it at the chemist.

"There are problems with this ... you might not actually be getting Viagra. At best it may be an inert substance, at worst a positively dangerous substance," he said.

And he added that it is the job of the Government rather than the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) to look at the issue.

However, a spokesman for the Department of Health said: "The availability of Viagra on the NHS was reviewed in 2001 and the decision taken then was that there should be no change to the existing restrictions.

"The costs of impotence drugs, including Viagra, continue to rise even with prescribing restrictions and we continue to have concerns about the cost implications of changing the current arrangements."

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