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Viagra to be sold over the counter in the UK
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(London) A UK drug store chain will begin test marketing over the counter Viagra beginning on Valentine's Day. Until now the drug was available only by prescription.

Boots Chemist Stores announced Sunday that the pilot program will be launched in Manchester and is expected to last six months. After that time Boots will consider whether to expand it to other pharmacies.

Men between 30 and 65 wishing to buy the drug will be required to undergo a meeting with a pharmacist that would last about about an hour and cover medical history and tests for blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose levels.

The men would also be counseled on potential side effects of the drug.

Then for about £50 ($100 US) they will receive a pack of four pills. If they want a refill, they would be required to see a doctor.

But in the US there is growing concern among some AIDS care workers that Viagra is being used as a party drug and is helping fuel rising rates of HIV/AIDS among men who have sex with men.

Last month one of the nation's largest HIV/AIDS healthcare providers filed suit against Pfizer, which manufactures Viagra accusing it of encouraging the recreational use of the drug and in doing so contributing to sexually transmitted diseases including HIV.

Healthcare Foundation's lawsuit alleges that Pfizer engaged in "unlawful, unfair and fraudulent business practices" in violation of California Business and Professions Code.

The lawsuit wants the court to direct the company to begin a public education program primarily aimed at men who have sex with men "about the increased risks of transmission of sexually transmitted diseases associated with using Pfizer's Viagra."

The suit has the backing of Dr. Jeffrey D. Klausner, the Director, STD Prevention at the San Francisco Department of Public Health.

"Several of our studies and those I reviewed for my research showed strong independent associations between the use of Viagra and increased sexual risk behavior, including an increased risk for diseases like syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia and HIV infection," said Klausner when the lawsuit was announced.

"The promotion of Viagra for what some have called 'recreational use' must be stopped. Why the FDA has not acted on this is unclear to me," Klausner said.

Pfizer has denied any wrongdoing and has said it will fight the lawsuit in court.
Note: No trees were destroyed in the sending of this contaminant free message. However, I do concede, a significant number of electrons may have been inconvenienced.


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