Erectile dysfunction drug ads prompt abstinence from prescribing

LETTER — Posted Oct. 11, 2004

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Regarding "Viagra used more, especially by younger men" (Article, Sept. 13): Those of us in primary care have certainly seen increased visits prompted by drug company ads for erectile dysfunction. While there may be a benefit to this for the over-50-year-old man who may not otherwise schedule a health maintenance visit, it seems that some days I can hardly make any progress in public health for addressing erections and toenail fungus.

It amazes me to see how generously health plans continue to subsidize these treatments. Allowing direct-to-consumer marketing of pharmaceuticals has been a disaster that Congress should (but won't) reconsider.

The government regulatory and insurance company mismanagement issues aren't likely to bring relief from the scourge of mass-marketed diseases anytime soon, but I'm going to do my part to address this epidemic. For starters, I've written my last prescription for Levitra. Bayer and Glaxo can peddle their product in whatever way they think will deliver them the most market share, but since they have chosen to crassly promote Levitra as some sort of aphrodisiac, they can count me out!

Matt Poling, MD, College Station, Texas

Note: This item originally appeared at http://www.ama-assn.org/amednews/2004/10/11/edlt1011.htm.

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