Ministers ban export of erectile dysfunction drug to ensure Britain's needs are put first

Laura Donnelly
The Government has ordered a ban on export of the drug, one of several hit by shortages  - PA 

The Government has banned export of an erectile dysfunction drug - because there is not enough to meet Britain’s needs. 

A ban has been imposed on exporting Caverject, which is taken by men for whom Viagra does not work. 

It is only the second time the Department of Health and Social Care has action to stop export of drugs, earlier this month taking action to protect 27 types of medicine, including hormone replacement therapy drugs.

Caverject, which is produced by Pfizer, has been beset by shortages and last year the company warned a two-month shortage due to “global supply constraints”.

Medics raised fears that this has been exacerbated by men stockpiling the drug as they feared supply problems in the event of a no-deal Brexit. 

Last year Pfizer supplied 270,000 doses of the drug to Britain.

Tet Yap, a consultant urologist with London Urology Associates, said: “Supplies of this drug have been intermittent for many years and getting hold of it has been a nightmare.” 

He said: “It is fantastic that the government has taken some extreme action — I wonder if someone in the government suffers from erectile dysfunction. For the men who suffer from erectile dysfunction the drug is a real lifesaver.”

The drug is particularly used by men who have had surgery for prostate cancer, and for diabetes sufferers. 

Karen Stalbow, head of policy, knowledge and impact at Prostate Cancer UK, said: “Alprostadil is an important treatment for some men with prostate cancer who are experiencing erectile dysfunction following surgery. We have recently been investigating shortages in this particular treatment which men have been experiencing. It is important that action is taken to ensure that these treatments are available for the men that need them.”

A spokesman for Pfizer said: “We are aware Caverject has been included on the government’s list of medicines to protect supplies for patients in the UK. We will continue to work with the Department of Health and Social Care to support the effective supply of all Pfizer medicines for patients in the UK. There are five formulations of alprostadil available in the UK , three of which have sufficient supply while the other two are currently experiencing supply issues.”