Viagra and erectile dysfunction drug use increases among Sunderland men

Sunderland 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 24,163 prescriptions for the drugs were issued in the Sunderland area in the year to June – up by two per cent on the 23,676 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 £283,000 to £81,400 in Sunderland.

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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.