PRESCRIPTIONS for erectile dysfunction drugs are not been handed out willy-nilly by Limerick doctors, according to the regional IMO spokesperson.
It comes after Clare county councillor Brian Meaney asserted there was “no real medical need” for many of the Viagra prescriptions being filled out for medical card holders.
Cllr Meaney was commenting on figures which showed the bill for such drugs in the HSE West had climbed from €1.25 million to €1.42 million between 2009 and 2010. Limerick accounted for the highest bill in the region in 2010, at €324,000.
But the IMO’s Dr Mary Gray said prescriptions were not being filled out “indiscriminately”.
There were cardiovascular conditions where a prescription for such drugs was appropriate.
“Erectile dysfunction can be a symptom of an underlying problem and part of how one would address that problem could be such a prescription,” said the Corbally-based GP.
Such drugs could also be approved as part of a “multifactorial approach” to a patient with a mental health problem, she added.
The HSE said the drugs could also be used to treat pulmonary arterial hypertension although it was not possible to quantify the amount it spent on medical card holders with this rare condition.
Cllr Meaney accepted the use of Viagra to treat this condition and could also see a medical need where couples were “prevented from having a normal relationship because the man is on heavy medication” that might cause erectile dysfunction.
But he believes there are many cases where there is “no real medical need” and the HSE should cut back the monthly allowance for medical card holders, particularly at a time when “patients with immediate medical needs or in severe pain” were being hit by HSE cutbacks.