Buying Brand-Name ED meds - Viagra, Cialis, Levitra and others - in the United Kingdom
Despite the wide availability of generic PDE-5 inhibitors, the market of brand-name ED medications is still very strong in the United Kingdom. This is partly due to the success of Viagra Connect, which became available over the counter in 2018. The sales of Viagra went up 60% since that moment. Today’s article analyzes the availability of branded ED drugs in the UK and explains the process of obtaining them with or without a prescription.
Legal Brand-Name ED Drugs (such as brand Viagra) Available in the UK
The list of brand-name ED medications that can be obtained legally in the UK includes the following:
- Viagra (sildenafil 25mg, 50mg, sildenafil 100mg), prices start at £3.20 a pill.
- Viagra Connect (sildenafil 50mg). A 4-pill package costs £19.99. An 8-pill package – £34.99.
- Cialis (tadalafil 10mg, tadalafil 20mg), indicated only for ED treatment, to be taken as needed. Costs around £9.50 a pill.
- Daily Cialis (tadalafil 2.5mg, tadalafil 5mg), indicated for treatment of both ED and BPH, to be taken every day. 1 month’s supply of Daily Cialis (28-pill package) costs around £75.
- Levitra (vardenafil 10mg, vardenafil 20mg), prices start at £7.80 a pill.
- Spedra (avanafil 100mg, avanafil 200mg), priced at around £11 a pill.
- Vitaros (topical alprostadil, 3 mg/g). A single dose costs around £14.25.
- MUSE (alprostadil intraurethral pellets, 250 mcg, 500mcg, 1000mcg). From £13.50 per dose.
- Caverject (alprostadil injections, 5mcg, 10mcg, 20mcg, 40mcg). From around £9 per dose.
Note that, according to the European Association of Urology guidelines, alprostadil (Vitaros, MUSE, Caverject) is the second-line medication that should only be prescribed to those ED patients who can’t use PDE-5 inhibitors.
Alprostadil (Prostaglandin E1) is a topical medication used to treat ED. Its effect is due to its vasodilatory properties – it helps more blood to enter the penis, which results in an erection. It is currently available in 3 forms: solution for injections, intraurethral suppositories and topical cream, their efficacy totaling 80%, 30-40%, and 40% correspondingly. Most common side effects of alprostadil include penile pain, urethral pain or burning, testicular pain, priapism, curving of the penis. Alprostadil is prescribed to patients who can’t tolerate PDE-5 inhibitors or are dissatisfied with their effect, as well as to those who take medications known to interact with PDE-5 inhibitors.
Alternative options of ED treatment approved for use in the United Kingdom include vacuum penis pumps, penile implants and sex therapy.
Apomorphine-based ED medications (Uprima, Ixense, Spontane) are no longer available in the UK. The license for their distribution has been withdrawn in 2006 at the manufacturers’ request due to commercial reasons.
Apomorphine hydrochloride – a dopamine agonist used in ED treatment. It works by activating dopamine receptors and triggering the nerve reactions required to achieve erection. According to 6 clinical studies, its effectiveness is around 50%, which is significantly lower compared to 75% for sildenafil.
How to Buy Brand-Name ED Pills in the UK
Viagra Connect (sildenafil 50mg) is currently a pharmacy medicine in the UK, but you can’t buy it off the shelf as you will need to talk to a pharmacist first. This is required for the pharmacist to verify that you meet the 3 basic conditions for treatment with PDE-5 inhibitors:
- Your current health condition must allow you to take Viagra
- You shouldn’t be taking any drugs that can interact with Viagra in a potentially hazardous way
- Your symptoms must prove that you need medical ED treatment
Most UK pharmacies from bigger chain shops like Lloyds and Tesco to smaller local chemists’ offices have special rooms for private consultations with the sales assistants, so you wouldn’t need to talk about your problems and answer the pharmacist’s questions in front of other customers. According to BBC, women can buy Viagra Connect on behalf of their partners, but they will need to go through the same questionnaire to report their partners’ health condition, ED symptoms, medical history and drug regimen. Use the sample questionnaire to prepare for the interview and make sure you have all the information you need.
Unlike Viagra Connect, regular Viagra 100mg, 50mg and 25mg tablets can still be purchased in the UK only with a valid prescription. The same applies to Cialis, Levitra, Spedra, MUSE, Vitaros and Caverject.
Both Viagra Connect and prescription-only ED meds can be legally purchased in the United Kingdom in online pharmacy. All UK-based online drugstores must, however, be registered with the General Pharmaceutical Council. Foreign online drugstores ship their products to the UK too, but, when using those, you need to choose your supplier carefully to avoid purchasing counterfeit products.
When buying regular Viagra or other prescription-only meds online, a customer is asked to complete a form containing questions like the ones you would be asked in a land-based pharmacy. The answers are then reviewed by a licensed healthcare specialist. If there are no contraindications to the treatment with the medicine of the customers’ choice, they are allowed to proceed and place their order.
Is Treatment with Brand-Name ED Meds Available on the NHS?
While NHS prescriptions for generic sildenafil are very common, the financial support for treatment with brand-name medications is very limited. According to the organization’s official Erectile Dysfunction Guidance, a person with ED is only eligible for treatment with brand-name drugs like Viagra on the NHS if they have one of the following conditions:
- Suffer from multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, poliomyelitis, prostate cancer, single gene neurological disease, spina bifida or diabetes
- Have history of severe pelvic or spinal cord injury they haven’t fully recovered from
- Have undergone prostatectomy, radical pelvic surgery or had kidney transplanted
- Are on dialysis due to kidney failure
If you qualify for treatment with brand-name ED meds on the NHS, you will be limited to a maximum of 4 pills per month. The limitations do not apply to patients receiving treatment with generic sildenafil.
ED meds are not distributed entirely for free on NHS – like with other medications, the patient still needs to pay a prescription fee of £8.80 to receive the pills.
UK citizens interested in ED treatment with PDE-5 inhibitors or alprostadil have unrestricted access to all major brands. Some people choose Viagra Connect because it’s easy to buy over the counter, others can’t tolerate generics and some customers simply respond to big brands’ marketing efforts by purchasing their products. Either way, brand-name impotence drugs remain in demand.
- Viagra market goes up 60% in the UK after the release of Viagra Connect - https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/6814437/new-viagra-connect-enjoys-stiff-sales/
- European Association of Urology guidelines for the use of PDE-5 inhibitors and alprostadil - http://www.lancsmmg.nhs.uk/wp-content/uploads/sites/3/2013/04/Erectile-Dysfunction-Guideline-Version-1.0.pdf
- Efficacy of alprostadil injections and intraurethral suppositories in ED treatment - https://www.webmd.com/erectile-dysfunction/guide/alprostadil-treat-ed#1
- Efficacy of topical alprostadil in ED treatment - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4977016/
- Comparative studies of the effectiveness of apomorphine, sildenafil, placebo in treating ED - http://www.bandolier.org.uk/booth/SexHlth/Apo.html
- Apomorphine-based ED drugs discontinued in the UK - https://www.netdoctor.co.uk/medicines/sexual/a8279/uprima-discontinued-in-the-uk-january-2006/
- Sample pharmacy checklist/questionnaire for Viagra Connect - https://hcp.viagraconnect.co.uk/sites/default/files/2018-01/Viagra%20Connect%20Checklist_4.pdf
- Women can buy Viagra Connect without prescription on their partners’ behalf - https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-43539523
- NHS Erectile Dysfunction Guidance - http://www.lancsmmg.nhs.uk/wp-content/uploads/sites/3/2013/04/Erectile-Dysfunction-Guideline-Version-1.0.pdf