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British Men Turn to Viagra in Record Numbers

Britain’s population is aging, and prescriptions for Viagra are increasing.

Britain’s population is aging, and prescriptions for Viagra are increasing.

Viagra has been available for 17 years now, and as a treatment for erectile dysfunction, Viagra and its generic competitors containing sildenafil (the active ingredient in Viagra) are still wildly popular.

Name brand competitors like Cialis and Levitra also exist, but Viagra was first on the market and became more of a household name. The first word many people would associate with the term “erectile dysfunction” would be Viagra, because it has become synonymous with treatment of that condition, despite competitors and despite the fact that sildenafil shows promise in treating numerous other diseases and conditions.

In the UK, prescriptions for Viagra and its generic counterparts have increased over the past year, and compared to a decade ago. Why might that be the case? An aging population, along with an increase in health conditions that often go along with erectile dysfunction may be partly responsible. It doesn’t hurt that generics are widely available to British men too.

More Prescriptions Overall Are Being Written in the UK

Statistics recently released by the UK Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC) reported that in 2014, 1.7 million prescriptions for sildenafil (whether as a generic or as the name brand Viagra) were written, compared to 1.4 million in 2013. In 2004, only about a million prescriptions for Viagra were written, so use of the drug has nearly doubled in the span of a decade.

Of course, Viagra isn’t the only drug for erectile dysfunction available in Britain, and the total number of prescriptions for all erectile dysfunction drugs has gone up. In fact, prescriptions overall increased in 2014 by 3.3% over 2013, and by 55.2% over the number issued in 2004. What’s behind the increase in prescriptions for Viagra and other erectile dysfunction drugs?

Prescriptions for Drugs to Treat Diabetes Have Increased
In the UK, more money was spent on drugs to treat diabetes than for any other type of drug, and this may provide clues about the increase in prescriptions for Viagra. Diabetes is a chronic disease that is associated with a higher prevalence of erectile dysfunction. Most cases of erectile dysfunction result from insufficient blood flow to the penis. In diabetics, damage to blood vessels throughout the body can compromise blood flow, so it’s no mystery why diabetics tend to have more problems with erectile dysfunction.

Diabetes is also associated with other health conditions such as obesity and heart disease, which are two other diseases that are correlated with increased incidence of erectile dysfunction. The good news is that for many of these men, better control of blood glucose can help with erectile dysfunction, whether or not they are prescribed Viagra.

Antidepressant Prescriptions Have Increased as Well

Another interesting finding is that antidepressant prescriptions have increased. An increase of 7.2% from 2013 to 2014 is part of a decade-long trend. Almost twice as many prescriptions for antidepressants were written in 2014 as were written in 2004. So during the same time span when prescriptions for Viagra nearly doubled, prescriptions for antidepressants did the same. Is there a connection? Nobody has studied the data to find out, but a common side effect of many antidepressants is lower libido and difficulty with sexual functioning, in both men and women. It’s possible that some prescriptions for Viagra were written to help men who have had trouble with erections due to use of antidepressants.

Majority of UK Prescriptions Written for People Over Age 60

In the UK, as in most places, the majority of prescriptions are written for people older than 60. The incidence of health problems increases with age, and one of those health problems that increases with age is erectile dysfunction. A study by researchers in Cologne, Germany in 2013 confirmed a steep age-related increase in the incidence of erectile dysfunction. This study found that in men ranging from age 30 to 80, the incidence of erectile dysfunction rises from 2.3% in the youngest men to 53.4% in the oldest.

It makes sense that the increase in prescriptions for Viagra in the UK have increased, since the biggest overall increase in prescriptions has been in the over-60 demographic, when incidence of erectile dysfunction becomes much more prevalent as well.

General UK Demographic Trends
In the UK, the average age of the population as a whole is increasing. By the year 2037, the number of Brits aged 80 and over is expected to double from what it was in 2012. Older people will make up a greater proportion of the UK population over the next couple of decades, with the proportion aged 75 and older growing from 7.9% in 2012 to 13% in 2037. This will cause the average age of people in the UK up from 39.7 years of age in 2012 to 40.6 years in 2022, and 42.8 years by 2037 if projections pan out. By 2037, there will have been 31% growth in the number of people old enough to receive state pensions.

By the year 2037, the number of pensioners in the UK will increase by nearly one-third.

By the year 2037, the number of pensioners in the UK will increase by nearly one-third.

These trends indicate that demand for Viagra and its competitors will probably continue to increase as the average age of the population increases and along with it, the incidence of conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and erectile dysfunction.

More Generic Competition for Viagra Brining Prices Down
Pfizer’s patent for Viagra in the UK expired in 2014, and when that happened, a number of generic competitors were ready to join the market. This had the effect of bringing prices for sildenafil down significantly. Once prices dropped so steeply, the UK’s Department of Health lifted restrictions on the National Health Service for prescribing generic sildenafil. Before the generics were available, the NHS could only prescribe Viagra to men who had conditions like prostate cancer, diabetes, and multiple sclerosis due to the cost. So doctors may be prescribing more sildenafil now simply because they’re allowed to. (Private physicians in the UK could prescribe Viagra freely before, but the NHS would only pay for Viagra in limited amounts, for a narrowly defined subgroup of men with erectile dysfunction).

Conclusion

More British men than ever are taking Viagra or its generic counterparts. A number of factors have contributed to the increase in use of the drug. For one thing, doctors are writing more prescriptions overall. For another, diabetes is a major health issue in the UK just as it is in the US, and men with diabetes are more likely to experience erectile dysfunction. The average age of British men is increasing, along with risk for erectile dysfunction, and finally, there are many inexpensive generic options available in the UK due to the expiration of Pfizer’s patent on Viagra there.

Viagra has a long track record for successfully treating erection problems, and though it has more competitors, it is still extremely popular. At eDrugstore.com, we work with US-licensed pharmacists to dispense genuine Viagra made by Pfizer to men with the utmost in convenience, safety, and customer service.

Don Amerman has spent more than three decades in the business of writing and editing. During the last 15 years, his focus has been on freelance writing. For almost all of his writing, He has done all of his own research, both online and off, including telephone and face-to-face interviews where possible. Don Amerman on Google+