A cream which treats erectile dysfunction (ED) is now available on prescription in the UK.
The cream – called Vitaros – now gives hope to the 2.3 million men over 18 across the country who currently try to deal with the problem by taking a variety of other treatments, such as Viagra (sildenafil).
Vitaros cream is available in a single-use, disposable applicator. A pre-prescribed amount is applied to the tip of the penis and, once absorbed, claims to yield an erection within five to 30 minutes.
The cream, which contains the drug alprostadil, means that men in the UK are the first in the world to have access to this new form of treatment to combat their sexual dysfunction issues.
Vitaros cream must be kept refrigerated and is unsuitable for mail order without specialist packaging to keep the medicine cooled.
The risks of oral ED drugs
Oral erectile dysfunction drugs are not suitable for people with angina or who have had a heart attack or stroke, and they can also cause a variety of other side effects including dizziness, blurred vision and headaches. Vitaros is a prescription only medicine and medical checks and advice are required before use.
Men engaging in intercourse with women of childbearing age whilst using Vitaros should use condoms. This protects against possible vaginal irritation and against potential risks to pregnancies.
250 UK men who have been diagnosed with ED were recently surveyed – and 35% of them said they suffered side effects after taking a pill. Nevertheless, the majority of the remaining men persevered with the treatment so they could produce an erection.
Experts have said that because Vitaros cream is applied directly to the genitals, such generalised side effects are unlikely, and any that are suffered will be mild and short-lived.
A milestone in ED treatment
Dr David Edwards, a GP in Chipping Norton, and President of the British Society for Sexual Medicine, said:
The availability of Vitaros is an exciting milestone in erectile dysfunction treatment.
Many men miss out on the chance of treatment because they either cannot tolerate a pill or simply do not want to take one, or are put off by the existing forms of Alprostadil, such as an injection into the penis or a pellet inserted into the urethra.
The importance of finding the right treatment for the right person cannot be underestimated.
Vitaros cream on prescription
Vitaros cream is only available on prescription and is self-administered by the patient after instruction from a GP or healthcare professional. Vitaros is available in two dosage strengths of 200 and 300 mcg alprostadil in 100 mg of cream.
Many of the current ED treatments, including Vitaros, are restricted on the NHS, meaning not all sufferers are eligible. Nevertheless, men who need ED treatment but fall outside the usual free NHS prescription guidelines may still be able to able to get private prescriptions for Vitaros.
Further information can be found in the patient information leaflet supplied with Vitaros 3 mg/g cream.
Other forms of alprostadil
Caverjet from Pfizer is supplied as a syringe pre-filled with alprostadil which is injected directly into the side of the penis (how to use Caverjet).
MUSE from MEDA is an alprostadil pellet inserted into the urethra (opening at tip of the penis) using an applicator (how to use MUSE).
A surprising statistic
It is estimated that most men between the ages of 40 and 70 have suffered from ED at some point, with more serious cases resulting in poor self-esteem, anxiety, depression, and relationship problems.
The taboo nature of the subject was also highlighted in a recent UK study which revealed that over 80% of men who suffer from ED had problems for longer than a year before they actually sought any help.
Recognising ED early on is important as it could be a precursor to more serious problems such as cardiovascular disease.