Boots launches in-store Viagra service

LONDON (Reuters) - Men will be able to get Viagra directly on the high street, instead of having to go to their doctor, under a nationwide scheme launched Friday by Alliance Boots, the country’s biggest pharmacy chain.

The start of the first pharmacy-led service for erection problems follows a successful pilot program in Manchester and underlines the growth in sales of medicines direct to consumers, which has been encouraged by the government.

The move means men will be able to get a prescription-only medicine directly from pharmacists -- but they must still be registered with a doctor and agree for their doctor to be informed.

Patients will complete a pre-screening questionnaire before having a 30-minute consultation with a pharmacist. The service costs 55 pounds for the initial screening and supply of four tablets and then from 26.59 for four tablets for further supply.

Boots believes there is a substantial unmet demand for erectile dysfunction treatment. The condition affects one in 10 men but it is estimated only around 10 percent of them are currently being treated.

Impotence can be a marker for a more serious underlying medical condition and Boots Medical Director Graham Marshall said pharmacists would be alert to any warning signs.

During the Manchester pilot, 288 patients were referred to their doctor after tests carried out as part of the consultation revealed abnormal glucose, cholesterol or blood pressure levels.

Reporting by Ben Hirschler; editing by Elaine Hardcastle