Prescribing patterns and costs associated with erectile dysfunction drugs in England: A time trend analysis

Colette Bell, Muhammad Abdul Hadi, Saval Khanal, Vibhu Paudyal

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Background: Sildenafil and tadalafil are recommended firstline treatments for erectile dysfunction (ED). Sildenafil was legally reclassified to a ‘pharmacy’ medicine in the UK in 2018. Aim: To assess the prescribing patterns and costs associated with prescribing of ED drugs in England, and to investigate the link between prescribing and deprivation, regional demography, and legal reclassification. Design & setting: Analyses were conducted of publicly available government data from various sources pertaining to primary care prescribing and demographics in England. Method: Prescribing and cost data from January 2009 to November 2019 were extracted and adjusted for inflation, male populations, and regional deprivation. Results: Between 2009 and 2019 the rate of prescribing, measured as the number of items per 1000 men, increased by 110%. In 2019, the rate of prescribing of ED medicines in the most deprived areas was 21.0% higher than the rate observed in least deprived areas. The northern regions of England approximately had a 50% higher rate of prescribing compared with London. A 1.3% annual increase in the number of prescription items was observed between 2018 and 2019 for Sildenafil, with a 5.8% increase observed from 2017–2018. Conclusion: The two-fold increase in the rate of primary care prescriptions in the past 10 years suggests that more men are being screened for, or seeking help for, ED. The higher rate of prescribing offers opportunity for monitoring of linked risk factors, such as diabetes mellitus, dyslipidaemia, and vascular disorders, in deprived populations. Reclassification of sildenafil had a modest impact on prescribing practices.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberbjgpopen20X101145
JournalBJGP Open
Issue number2
Early online date26 Apr 2021
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2021


  • deprivation
  • erectile dysfunction
  • PDE-5I
  • prescribing practices
  • primary health care
  • sexual dysfunction
  • sildenafil citrate

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