Erectile dysfunction treatment Viagra Connect is now widely available to buy without a prescription.

We spoke to Treated.com Clinical Lead, Dr Daniel Atkinson, to find out what this means for patients seeking treatment for ED, what the process involves, and how (if at all) Viagra Connect is different to the original.

What’s new about Viagra Connect?

Is Viagra Connect just Viagra under a different name?

In terms of the medicine itself, yes.’ Dr Atkinson tells us. ‘Viagra Connect is the rebranded version of the 50mg dose of Viagra.’

‘It’s made by the same manufacturers, contains the same ingredients and is a bioequivalent, and works in exactly the same way. The only major difference is that the original is also available in a higher and lower dose (100mg and 25mg), and is prescription-only; whereas Viagra Connect is available in one dose (50mg).’

‘Also, because Viagra Connect does not require a prescription, it is probably going to be cheaper for pharmacies to supply.’

What is a pharmacy medicine?

So can patients buy Viagra Connect off the shelf?

‘Pharmacy medicines do not require a prescription, but it isn’t a case of just picking them up and paying for them at the checkout.’ Dr Atkinson explains. ‘When someone buys a pharmacy medicine, a pharmacist will still need to perform medical screening to ensure that it is suitable for the patient.’

‘Sometimes, erectile dysfunction can be a sign of one or more underlying health conditions; so this screening is designed to help identify whether a patient could be at risk of these.’

‘In the case of Viagra Connect, the pharmacist is likely to ask the patient questions about their blood pressure, what other medications they are taking, and how long they have been experiencing erection problems.’

‘If someone buys Viagra Connect in person from their local or high street pharmacy, the pharmacist will take them into a private consultation room to discuss this.’

What to look for when buying Viagra Connect online

Many online providers, including Treated.com, will now be offering Viagra Connect too. But once again, the healthcare professionals staffing the service will still need to undertake medical checks to ensure safety.

When getting Viagra Connect from an online pharmacy, the consultation process will typically involve similar questions (relating to general health and the nature of symptoms), but just won’t be undertaken in person.’

‘For instance, the consultation process for Viagra Connect at Treated.com provides patients with a medical questionnaire to complete. In the case of pharmacy medicines, once the patient has provided their answers, the order goes to a pharmacist for screening. If the pharmacist is satisfied that the treatment is safe, it is then dispensed and shipped via courier.’

When buying Viagra Connect (or any medication) online, Dr Atkinson stresses the need for vigilance.

Viagra is a popular medicine, and there are unscrupulous sites who will either try to sell it without conducting the necessary checks, or sell counterfeit versions.’

‘So you should never buy from a site which doesn’t ask you any questions at all. If they don’t undertake any kind of health screening, then it’s likely they aren’t practising within the law.’

‘Make sure the site you’re using is registered with the General Pharmaceutical Council. The site should carry a logo with a green cross and a seven-digit registration number. In many cases, clicking on this will take you to the pharmacy’s entry in the GPhC register.’

‘Using sites and services registered with the Care Quality Commission also provides an added layer of security. The CQC monitors registered members to ensure they’re adhering to their standards of practice; so once again, look for the logo.’

Has Viagra been available without a prescription before?

Yes, but only on a very limited basis.

Viagra Connect will be the first and, as yet, only licensed medication for erectile dysfunction to become widely available in the UK on a non-prescription basis.’ explains Dr Atkinson.

‘The only other time a licensed erectile dysfunction medicine was available without a prescription in the UK was in 2009. Viagra, the original, was trialled for a short time as a pharmacy medicine in a few selected providers. Following this trial, it went back to being prescription only.’

How likely is it that other ED medicines will be reclassified?

The MHRA reclassified Viagra Connect as a pharmacy medicine last year.’ Dr Atkinson explains. ‘This came after the generic version of the medicine, Sildenafil, was released in 2013 and was subsequently offered more widely on the NHS.’

‘So we are seeing a trend of ED medicines becoming gradually more accessible. It’s likely that manufacturers of other popular treatments, such as Lilly and Bayer, will be looking to see how Viagra Connect performs. In the future, it’s possible we may see new, rebranded versions of Cialis and Levitra reclassified as pharmacy medicines too.’

Visit our Viagra Connect page to read more about this treatment.