Over-the-counter sales put lead into erectile dysfunction meds

A new way of getting medication for erectile dysfunction has seen a big growth in sales of the New Zealand made drug Silvasta.

NZ is the world’s first country to allow over-the-counter purchases, and sales are booming Source: 1 NEWS

New Zealand is the first country to allow over the counter sales of the medication.

While some have concerns the medical issues may not be picked up without a doctor involved, pharmacists say there are protections in place.

Being able to walk into a chemist to get your erectile dysfunction medicine instead of sitting down with a doctor appears a popular choice.

Since it became available over the counter in October, sales of Silvasta have shot up over 400 per cent.

"There's traditionally been huge sales over the internet, so I guess in a way this could be replacing internet sales," says Jeff Douglas of Douglas Pharmaceuticals.

Gore chemist Bernie McKone fought to have Silvasta approved for over the counter sales.

"There are a lot of blokes out there who have got problems but just aren't sure how to raise the issue so I think the reclassification has helped them come forward," says Mr McKone.

But not everybody is sold on the new method.

While the less formal option of popping into the pharmacy appears to be popular with patients, it isn't among the New Zealand Medical Association, who fear issues like cardiovascular disease may not be being picked up "in store."

Only select pharmacists can prescribe Silvasta and patients go through a sit down consultation.

"I think the reclassification has been done with that in mind, to actually force those discussions to take place, because people have been going around saying 'Yes I've got the symptoms of not being able to have an erection.'"

But the fact is they've got diabetes and high blood pressure contributing to it," says Mr McKone.

The Medical Association also worries some are obtaining the drug simply for increased sexual performance, but the drug company says patient care is paramount.

"Our screening program ensures that if they do have an underlying health problem then they will be immediately referred to a general practitioner," says Mr Douglas.

Around one in eight patients Bernie McKone consults are referred to their GP for a more comprehensive diagnosis.