Erectile dysfunction treatment Viagra Connect has gone on sale over the counter for the first time, with Boots receiving a two-week exclusivity period before the Pfizer-manufactured drug is available in other pharmacies. The National Pharmacy Association has criticised what it describes as a ‘sweetheart deal’.

Men over 18 years of age will be able to purchase the medicine after answering a series of questions at the pharmacy counter or completing an online questionnaire. Kristie Sourial, medical manager for Pfizer, said the launch “offers men a new and convenient route of access to treat the symptoms of erectile dysfunction”.

“It is important to remember that erectile dysfunction is a medical condition, and that the impact often goes beyond the physical symptoms – it can lead to men feeling anxious, depressed and lacking in confidence,” said Ms Sourial.

Viagra Connect is exclusively available in Boots stores for a period of two weeks. Independents and other pharmacies are expected to be able to take delivery of the medicine from April 11 onwards.

Unfair to independents?

The NPA his criticised what it describes as an arrangement that is unfair to UK independent pharmacies, and said it could take independents “significantly longer” than the April 11 launch date before their staff are trained and able to dispense Viagra Connect.

NPA chairman Ian Strachan said: “It is incredibly disappointing that Pfizer has given preferential treatment to Boots. Deals like this restrict patient choice and undermine confidence in independent community pharmacies, which make up about half of the market.

“Furthermore, it points towards an inherent unfairness whereby vertically integrated companies can steal a march on their competitors with this type of sweetheart deal.”

Manufacturer response

Pfizer responded that it is “committed to helping independent pharmacists” benefit from the launch, with its consumer healthcare UK general manager Paul Rose commenting: “We are keen to expand supply as quickly as possible to wider pharmacies via our usual channels. We are certainly committed to helping independent pharmacists make the most of the launch of Viagra Connect.

“Our pharmacy training programme rolled out on the February 15 and to date we have reached more than half of UK pharmacies through this programme. Our regional pharmacy training events are also proving popular, with early events already full to capacity. Pfizer Consumer Healthcare is always keen to partner with pharmacy to broaden access to our products, and will continue to hold discussions with all pharmacy organisations as we move forward with the supply of Viagra Connect.”

Originally Published by Pharmacy Magazine

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