Cookie policy: This site uses cookies (small files stored on your computer) to simplify and improve your experience of this website. Cookies are small text files stored on the device you are using to access this website. For more information please take a look at our terms and conditions. Some parts of the site may not work properly if you choose not to accept cookies.


Subscribe or Register

Existing user? Login

Erectile dysfunction

Viagra prescriptions almost triple in a decade

According to an NHS Digital report, prescriptions of the erectile dysfunction drug, sildenafil, have almost tripled in the past decade. 

Viagra (sildenafil) pills


The ‘Prescriptions dispensed in the community – England, 2006 to 2016’ report has found that there were 2,958,199 prescription items for sildenafil in 2016, compared with 1,042,431 in 2006.

The number of items prescribed in the community in England for the erectile dysfunction drug sildenafil has nearly tripled in a decade, according to official figures from NHS Digital.

There were 2,958,199 prescription items for sildenafil in 2016, compared with 1,042,431 in 2006.

Prescription items rose by 43% between 2014 and 2015, but slowed down between 2015 and 2016 when the increase was 16%, the data confirm.

The figures come from the ‘Prescriptions dispensed in the community — England, 2006 to 2016 report’, published by NHS Digital on 29 June 2017.

Chair of the Royal College of GPs, Helen Stokes-Lampard, responded to the statistics saying: “Awareness of sildenafil has certainly increased over the last decade. It has also come ‘off licence’, making it cheaper. Both factors may account for some of the increase in prescriptions over the last few years.

“But this increase in prescribing could also indicate significantly reduced stigma of discussing erectile dysfunction, and so, more men who suffer from the condition are feeling comfortable enough to visit their GP or another healthcare professional for medical assistance. Erectile dysfunction, as well as being a physical condition, can also have a very real effect on our patients’ mental health — so this is a good thing.”

She also said she believed that the reduction in the rate of increase between 2015 and 2016 might have indicated that the drug was becoming more available online, and she reiterated the risks of buying medicines online from unregulated websites.

The pharmacy regulator, the General Pharmaceutical Council, runs a voluntary internet pharmacy logo scheme, which confirms whether a site is registered with the regulator and adheres to its professional standards.

The latest NHS Digital figures emerged just months after the UK’s drug safety watchdog launched a consultation on its proposals to reclassify sildenafil from a prescription-only to a pharmacy (P) medicine, which meant it would be available without a prescription following the advice of a pharmacist.

That proposal — which would apply to 50mg tablets — reflected the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency’s (MHRA) thinking that the tablets could be safely made available without a prescription and might prevent men turning to unregulated online sites to obtain their supplies.

The consultation ran until 18 April 2017. A decision is expected at a later date.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2017.20203430

Have your say

For commenting, please login or register as a user and agree to our Community Guidelines. You will be re-directed back to this page where you will have the ability to comment.

Recommended from Pharmaceutical Press

  • Drugs of Abuse

    Drugs of Abuse

    A concise, easy-to-read guide for healthcare professionals who encounter drug abuse.

    £38.00Buy now
  • Adverse Drug Reactions

    Adverse Drug Reactions

    A practical guide to the drug reactions that affect particular organ systems, and the management of these reactions.

    £38.00Buy now
  • English Delftware Drug Jars

    English Delftware Drug Jars

    This beautiful book illustrates the art and history of the collection of English delftware drug jars in the Museum of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain.

    £54.00Buy now
  • Paediatric Drug Handling

    Paediatric Drug Handling

    Written for new pharmaceutical scientists, this book provides a background in paediatric pharmacy and a comprehensive introduction to children's medication.

    £33.00Buy now
  • Introduction to Renal Therapeutics

    Introduction to Renal Therapeutics

    Introduction to Renal Therapeutics covers all aspects of drug use in renal failure. Shows the role of the pharmacist in patient care for chronic kidney disease.

    £38.00Buy now
  • Print
  • Share
  • Comment
  • Save
  • Print Friendly Version of this pagePrint Get a PDF version of this webpagePDF

Supplementary images

  • Viagra (sildenafil) pills

Newsletter Sign-up

Want to keep up with the latest news, comment and CPD articles in pharmacy and science? Subscribe to our free alerts.