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Viagra, rationed

BMJ 1999; 318 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.318.7179.338 (Published 30 January 1999) Cite this as: BMJ 1999;318:338
  1. Kamran Abbasi
  1. BMJ.

    On 21 January, the health secretary Frank Dobson's announcement on prescribing Viagra (see p 273 and p 279) was denounced by the BMA as “cruel and unethical.” But doctors found few allies in the press. As Jennifer Trueland wrote in the Scotsman(22 January), the Viagra debate “shows that the NHS has finite resources and that it cannot meet every demand.” The Evening Standard, however, was first into the fray (21 January): “Doctors do not run the National Health Service: taxpayers do. But try telling that to the British Medical Association. It was in the interests of the taxpayers, and of common sense, that the Health Secretary, Frank Dobson, announced his new, binding guidelines…. The BMA needs to be slapped down hard on this.”

    The Independent (23 January) argued that “rationing by queueing” was as old as the NHS, and that, while the 1990s was “the Happy Decade” (thank you Prozac and Viagra), it would “also be remembered as the decade in which the rationing of healthcare started in Britain.” The BMA, it …

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