Drop in numbers of men relying on sexual dysfunction drugs

Over €57m spent by health authority on prescription drugs like Viagra since 2009

Taxpayers have been left with a stiff bill for the rising cost of erectile dysfunction drugs provided to medical-card holders by the HSE

Taxpayers have been left with a stiff bill for the rising cost of erectile dysfunction drugs provided to medical-card holders by the HSE

 

Taxpayers have been left with a stiff bill for the rising cost of erectile dysfunction drugs provided to medical-card holders by the HSE.

More than €57 million has been spent by the health authority on prescription drugs such as Viagra since 2009, according to new figures released under the Freedom of Information Acts.

However, there has been a notable drop in the number of men relying on sexual dysfunction drugs, with over 6,000 fewer patients receiving the medication under free schemes last year.

In total, the HSE has spent €57,066,675 on erectile dysfunction (ED) medicines for patients on public health schemes since 2009.

Medical-card holders covered by the General Medical Services (GMS) scheme account for €36.7 million of the total amount, while almost €15.5 million has been spent on ED drugs for patients under the Drugs Payment Scheme (DPS).

The DPS covers the cost of approved medicines over a threshold of €144 per month for individuals or families.

A further €4.8 million was spent on the drugs for patients with conditions such as cerebral palsy, epilepsy and multiple sclerosis; who qualify for the Long-Term Illness (LTI) scheme.

Last year, the number of unique patients who were supplied with ED drugs at the expense of the HSE was 41,412. This represented a reduction of over 10% since the previous year. The cost was similarly reduced from €10.2 million in 2013 to €7.1 million last year.

The figures were released by the HSE under the Freedom of Information Acts. They are likely to be the subject of scrutiny after it recently emerged that the HSE had overspent by over €136 million in the first four months of the year.

Medicines prescribed to treat erectile dysfunction include Viagra, Levitra, Cialis, and Sidena. They contain similar active ingredients such as sildenafil, vardenafil and tadalafil.

In 2014, the most commonly prescribed drug was sildenafil, which is sold as Viagra and other trade names. 25,260 patients were dispensed with medicines containing this ingredient at a cost of €2,453,330.

Tadalafil, the trade name of which is Cialis, was the next-most commonly prescribed drug. 23,422 patients were prescribed with this drug at a cost of €4,282,176 in 2014.

A comparatively less popular option, vardenafil was still the third most commonly prescribed ED medicine with 2,453 patients issued with prescriptions for the drug at a cost of €387,222 last year.