Viagra is licensed in Europe but rationed in Britain

BMJ 1998; 317 doi: (Published 19 September 1998) Cite this as: BMJ 1998;317:765
  1. Alex Brooks
  1. BMJ

    The long awaited licence for sildenafil citrate (Viagra) was granted this week by the European Medicines Evaluation Agency, but British patients will not be able to get the drug on the NHS, at least for the time being.

    Following the advice of the Standing Medical Advisory Committee, the Department of Health has advised doctors not to prescribe sildenafil until definitive guidance is drawn up in the next few weeks. This is the first time that the NHS has refused to fund a licensed drug with proved benefits to a large number of people. The efficacy and safety of sildenafil has already been demonstrated in trials and use in the United States.

    Admitting that the decision was primarily because of cost, the health secretary, Frank Dobson, said: “Media coverage of this drug to date has created expectations that could prove a serious drain on the funds of the NHS. If this were to happen, other patients could be denied the treatment …

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