Viagra and erectile dysfunction drug use increases among South Tyneside men

South Tyneside has seen a rise in the number of erectile dysfunction drugs being prescribed to men, new figures show.

Figures from the Open Prescribing Service show 15,461 prescriptions for the drugs were issued in the South Tyneside area in the year to June – a three per cent rise on the 14,949 the year before.

The Royal College of GPs (RCGP) said increased awareness and less stigma surrounding the condition may have contributed to the increase.

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Nationally, erectile dysfunction drugs appeared on 4.35 million prescriptions in the year – up from 4.30 million in 2020-21, and 4.33 in 2017-18.

Erectile dysfunction drug use rises.

The vast majority of these prescriptions are for sildenafil, which patients can get on the NHS if they suffer from erectile dysfunction but, outside the NHS, it can also be known by the brand names Viagra, Aronix, Liberize and Nipatra.

Prof Martin Marshall, chairman of the RCGP, said: "It may indicate lessening stigma around the condition and increasing awareness of its treatments, as well as patients feeling more comfortable to come forward for treatment.

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He added: "One of the most well-known drugs, sildenafil, which is widely known as Viagra, also came ‘off licence’ in recent years, making it cheaper."

The cost to the NHS of erectile dysfunction drugs nationally fell from £42.6m in the year to June 2018 to just £16.1m last year – tumbling from £158,000 to £62,000 in Soiuth Tyneside.

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Prof Marshall said GPs follow strict guidelines when prescribing generic sildenafil and will only issue an NHS prescription if there is one of a list of specific medical reasons to do so.