'Viagra boxers' to GPs cause quite a stir

 

FAMILY DOCTORS who received an unusual consignment in the post earlier this month may have thought it was an April fool – but management of Pfizer Healthcare Ireland says it was no joke.

The company has initiated an internal investigation following the despatch to GPs of pairs of boxer shorts, bearing a Pfizer logo to mark the tenth anniversary of the erectile dysfunction medication Viagra in Ireland.

It has also issued a written apology to general practitioners for “any embarrassment or offence” caused, and has enclosed freepost envelopes to facilitate return to sender.

The medication was first distributed under prescription on the Irish market in 1999. Pfizer says it is now the most commonly prescribed drug for the serious medical condition, which has a number of underlying causes including diabetes.

One GP who received the despatch said he “hadn’t had such a good laugh at a time when there weren’t many opportunities to do so”, while another said she had no intention of returning the item and only regretted that a Viagra-equivalent for women wasn’t on the market.

In a statement to The Irish Times, Pfizer Healthcare Ireland said the despatch of the “Viagra-branded item” was sent to “some GPs” and would not state how many.

“This should not have occurred and only did so through the poor judgment of a Pfizer employee,” the statement said.

“As soon as Pfizer management became aware of the issue, we acted immediately to apologise for this error of judgment and to seek return of the item.

“A full internal investigation to ensure this type of incident does not occur again has already commenced,” the statement said.

“Pfizer Healthcare Ireland prides itself on its high ethical standards in relation to the promotion of all its medicines and the creation of this item represents a breach of our internal policies and procedures. As such it is being treated very seriously,” it said.

“At this point very few GPs have returned the freepost envelope, and on balance most who we have spoken to realise that this was an error and have accepted our apology,” it said.

GPs have been invited to phone the company’s managing director or its medical director if they have any concerns about the incident.