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In Brief

Viagra Use by Ecstasy Abusers

    Anti-impotence drugs are being sold to young men without erectile dysfunction largely to counteract the effects of drugs such as methamphetamines or Ecstasy, which can leave them unable to get an erection. Sold in clubs, the drugs are often called “blues,” and sell for about $5 each, less than the pharmacy price.

    The drugs or their counterfeits are also available on web sites to nearly anyone who requests them, according to a recent article in the Los Angeles Times. The article said “these are all part of the new and rapidly changing face of erectile dysfunction drugs. Since the first impotence drug, Viagra, debuted in 1998 to address a physical problem for some men, it and newer sister drugs Levitra and Cialis have been used increasingly by healthy younger men for perceived performance-enhancement purposes or as psychological life-preservers to alleviate performance anxiety.”

    Expanding usage has insurers questioning whether they should pay for the drugs, the article noted, and whether the drugs factor into increases in sexually transmitted diseases or promote the drugs more as a lifestyle choice than medical necessity. According to the LA Times, most European insurance companies do not cover the drugs, and the United Kingdom's national health insurance severely limited its coverage.

    Pfizer sold $1.9 billion worth of Viagra last year, according to the article, and says 23 million men worldwide have tried it, but maintains that it is not promoting the drug for enhancement purposes, said the LA Times.

    © 2004 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.