Page last updated at 12:38 GMT, Thursday, 20 November 2008

Over-the-counter Viagra bid ends

Viagra
Men can be embarrassed about asking their doctor for Viagra

The makers of the anti-impotence drug Viagra have withdrawn an application for the medicine to be available without a prescription.

Pfizer took the decision after concerns were raised by European regulators about supply.

A European Medicines Agency committee said there would be too little medical oversight - meaning related problems like heart disease could be missed.

Around 35 million men have taken Viagra globally since its launch a decade ago.

If the drug is available without prescription, there is no medical supervision which could delay diagnosis of underlying disease
European Medicines Agency spokeswoman

Pfizer had wanted to make 50mg tablets available over-the-counter.

It said the move would help those men too embarrassed to seek help from their doctor.

A spokesman said: "A lot of men don't go to the doctor or talk about their condition.

"By offering it via a pharmacy, it would offer them another option."

He said it could also help prevent men buying over the internet and potentially taking fake, and even dangerous, pills.

Potential 'misuse'

But the EMEA's Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (CHMP), had major concerns over making Viagra available over-the-counter.

A spokeswoman said: "If the drug is available without prescription, there is no medical supervision which could delay diagnosis of underlying disease.

"The CHMP was particularly worried about the diagnosis of overt and silent cardiovascular disease, of which ED can be an early marker."

She said there had also been concerns over complicated product information, which could lead men to "unintentional misuse".

"In addition, a switch to being an over-the-counter medicine could lead to an increase in people who are not intended users taking Viagra recreationally."

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