Younger men lead surge in Viagra use, study reveals


ST. LOUIS, AUGUST 5, 2004 The use of Viagra(R) (sildenafil) has grown more than three- fold among younger men since it entered the market, according to a study published today in the International Journal of Impotence Research. The study is the first to profile trends in the use of Viagra using prescription claim information from a random, nationwide sample.

The study by Express Scripts examined Viagra use among more than 5 million commercially insured adult beneficiaries 18 years and older from 1998 to 2002. The fastest growing segments of users were found to be men 18 to 45 years and 46 to 55 years, who experienced increases in use of 312% and 216%, respectively, over the study period. In addition, use for an underlying medical reason declined in all age groups over the five years. These findings suggest increased use of Viagra as an enhancement or recreational agent.

Overall, use increased from 0.8% of the sample population in 1998 to 1.4% in 2002, an 84% increase. Men 56 years and older continued to receive the majority of Viagra prescriptions. In contrast with greater use among younger men, growth in use slowed among women and older men.

With healthcare resources becoming more scarce, debate continues over the coverage of lifestyle medications such as Viagra. "Already concerned with the impact Viagra has had on their pharmacy budgets, health plan sponsors now face the prospect of increased use among a younger, healthier generation of patients," said Tom Delate, Ph.D., lead author of the study. "In addition, marketing approval of other erectile dysfunction drugs, such as Levitra(R) and Cialis(R), will likely increase utilization of such drugs."

The coverage of erectile dysfunction (ED) drugs by prescription benefit plans varies widely, with some plans having no restrictions on coverage, others requiring prior authorization for medical necessity or placing quantity limits, and others offering no coverage. In one finding, the use of quantity limits by plan sponsors can mitigate the effects of increased demand for ED drugs.

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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