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Boots launches private PGD service to supply Viagra

Boots pharmacies

Four pharmacists in the north west of England this week became the first in the UK to offer the erectile dysfunction drug sildenafil (Viagra) to patients through a private patient group direction (PGD). The pharmacists, who are employed by Boots at three of its stores in Manchester and Salford, have signed up to the pilot, which is being run as a private health care service.

If the pilot is successful Boots plans to roll it out to other branches, although this decision is unlikely to be made before the end of the year.

The local pharmaceutical committee is disappointed that it knew nothing about the scheme until it appeared in the media last weekend. Manchester LPC secretary Pauline Thickett said: “It just seems that Boots is going off on its own way and not involving other pharmacists locally. It would have been nice as LPC secretary to have known about this beforehand, rather than having to find out about it on the news.”

Under the erectile dysfunction programme the Boots pharmacists will only be able to offer patients Viagra. If they decide a patient would benefit from an alternative erectile dysfunction drug they have to refer the patient to their GP. Pharmacists have been trained over the past nine months to work to a protocol developed by an advisory expert panel.

The programme, which is only available to men aged between 30 and 65 years who are registered with a GP in the UK, has taken two years to develop. Manchester was chosen as the pilot area because the company can trial the initiative in three distinctly different Boots stores. Boots is confident that the rigour of the pharmacist consultation and the protocol will prevent the service being abused by men who want sildenafil for lifestyle, rather than clinical, reasons.

Kevin Reilly, Boots’s health care development manager, said: “The bottom line here is that PGDs are very strict and patients will be screened for the service. If you were a fraud and wanted four tablets of Viagra (for lifestyle reasons) there are much easier ways of doing that than going through this programme.”

Boots is hoping that its initiative, being marketed under the banner “Boots Pharmacy+ ED Programme”, will help reach the 90 per cent of men whom it estimates have erectile dysfunction but go untreated.

How the programme will work

Men interested in obtaining sildenafil will be able to telephone to book an appointment for a consultation with the pharmacist. Consultations, which will take place in the pharmacy, are expected to take between 45 minutes to an hour. The pharmacist will take the patient’s medical history, assess his symptoms of erectile dysfunction as well as check his cholesterol, blood pressure and glucose levels before deciding whether to issue a packet of four tablets. The pharmacy consultation and medicine will cost £50.

The pharmacist will also inform the patient’s GP about the consultation and its outcome. If a patient wants further packets of sildenafil he will have to agree to a consultation with a Boots-nominated private GP. The consultation will cost £37.50 and the Viagra £21.25.

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Citation: The Pharmaceutical JournalURI: 10003289

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