Written Answers. - General Medical Services Scheme.

Derek McDowell

Question:

148 Mr. McDowell asked the Minister for Health and Children when a decision is expected on whether viagra will be available on the general medical services scheme; if his expert working group has given him a preliminary indication of its findings; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [1945/99]

The position is that viagra is now available on prescription in this country.

Due to the absence of any experience in Europe regarding the demand for the drug by patients or the prescribing patterns of doctors, and because of the issues surrounding the control of the drug, which have been extensively reported in the media, an expert group was established to examine this matter in detail. I expect to receive the final report of this group in February.

Prior to receiving and evaluating the report, it is not possible to come to any conclusions on the protocols or controls that may be required to ensure that patients with a genuine medical need can obtain the drug under the general medical services scheme or the community drugs scheme. Pending the outcome of the group's deliberations, viagra is not included in the general medical ser vices scheme or reimbursable under the community drugs scheme.