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Viagra Connect launch across all pharmacies is 'conversation starter'

Viagra Connect became available from all pharmacies and wholesalers yesterday
Viagra Connect became available from all pharmacies and wholesalers yesterday

The launch of the UK’s first Viagra pharmacy (P) medicine across all pharmacies yesterday is a “great conversation starter”, a pharmacist has said.

In November, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) announced that 50mg film-coated sildenafil tablets would be reclassified as a P medicine, and sold under the brand Viagra Connect, manufactured by Pfizer.

The product officially became available from all pharmacies and wholesalers across the UK yesterday (April 16), Pfizer announced, after a two-week period when it was available exclusively in Boots branches.

Andrew Cheung, responsible pharmacist at Harrison Healthcare, Belfast, told C+D this afternoon that he has had a “few enquiries” from patients since the announcement.

“It is a great conversation starter and will help identify any men with potential cardiovascular risk,” he said.

However, Mr Cheung added he does not “think it'll be very popular in our particular shop or in Belfast [as a whole]”, as patients who require sildenafil in Northern Ireland will continue to get it free on prescription.

Consultation process and training

The lengthy consultation process required before Viagra Connect can be sold may also discourage some patients, Mr Cheung suggested.

Natt Mitchell, pharmacist and director of JWW Allison Sons Ltd in Cockermouth, Cumbria, told C+D today he had received “just one query” in the day since Viagra Connect became available.

“[The patient] wasn’t aware that there was a consultation process,” he added.

To support the launch, Pfizer unveiled an “extensive” training programme for the product last month, including e-learning modules, face-to-face sessions and regional meetings.

Over 500 pharmacy staff have so far attended the regional training events, Pfizer said.

Mr Cheung said he encouraged his whole pharmacy team to attend a training session, and they then shared their learnings in an “informal training event” in the pharmacy the next day.

“At the end of the day, it is up to the branch to use professional judgement and clinical skills to decide whether [the patient] meets the criteria to purchase Viagra Connect,” he said.

Well’s “digital service” to aid Viagra access

Well Pharmacy’s 780 branches began selling Viagra Connect last Thursday (April 12), the multiple told C+D.

Jane Devenish, a pharmacist working for the multiple, welcomed the greater availability of sildenafil as “it is [now] so much easier for men to get the help they need”.

As well as selling Viagra Connect in stores, Well head of digital Dan Sheldon said: “We’re currently developing a digital service alongside our expert pharmacists that allows men with erectile dysfunction to access Viagra Connect at the click of a button.”

The aim is to provide a “safe, hassle-free, quick, discreet” service, with Viagra Connect “delivered to your door”, Mr Sheldon added.

RRP and digital training

A four-tablet pack of Viagra Connect retails at £19.99 and an eight-tablet pack for £34.99, according to Pfizer.

Digital training – available via hcp.viagraconnect.co.uk – includes videos, interactive content and print-and-keep resources, Pfizer explained. The site also includes the Viagra Connect checklist.

1 Comments
Question: 
Have you received many enquiries from customers about Viagra Connect?

Adam Hall, Community pharmacist

So, either we are able to sell a product that takes a reasonable amount of consultation time for not much return, or we identify an "at risk" patient for free! Way to go, Pfizer!

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