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Erectile dysfunction guidance 'discriminatory'

By Lilian Anekwe

GPs are demanding a change in Government guidance on erectile dysfunction medication to allow men access to a new once-daily treatment on the NHS.

Practices are braced for a rush of patients requesting regular treatment with erectile dysfunction medication after the drug tadalafil gained a license in once-daily form.

The new treatment method is likely to prove popular because of the spontaneity it allows, but poses problems for the current rules on access to erectile dysfunction medication.

Currently only 15% of patients, with one of 12 conditions, are entitled to free NHS treatment, and Department of Health guidance from 1999 recommends GP should not prescribe for more than one use a week.

Professor Mike Kirby, a former GPSI in urology and visiting professor at the University of Hertfordshire, said the restriction was ‘discriminatory'.

‘I do not think it's right to keep free treatment restricted full stop, and it's a great shame that it has not been reviewed.'

Dr Patrick Wright, a GPSI in erectile dysfunction in Durham, said: ‘It seems strange a mildly diabetic patient treated by diet alone is entitled but a very ill chap with cardiovascular disease is not.

‘There are also still postcode lotteries in the psychological services available for men with anxiety and depression and difficulties in relationships,' he added.

Professor Kirby encouraged GPs to use their clinical judgement: ‘For some men it may be helpful to take a daily dose. But the average for men of the age who commonly have erectile dysfunction is a few times a month.'

A Department of Health spokesperson said: 'The Department's guidance on treatment for impotence recommends that one treatment per week will be appropriate for most patients being treated for erectile dysfunction.

'However, the guidance also states that the frequency of treatment needs to be considered on a case by case basis - meaning that if a doctor considers, in his or her clinical judgement, that more than one treatment per week is appropriate they should prescribe this.'

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