Paying for impotence treatment

The cost is always an important factor in any form of medical treatment. Impotence is no different in that aspect.

However, the costs of treatment can soon add up which is why many patients look at the possibility of having their treatment on the NHS.

But does the NHS pay for treatment for impotence? The position is that the NHS will pay for treatment but only for a designated list of medical conditions which cause impotence (erectile dysfunction). As you might imagine this list is finite. The NHS may pay if your impotence is causing you severe distress or depression but the decision about that will be decided following an assessment by an NHS specialist.

Note: any man who received NHS treatment for impotence (erectile dysfunction) on 14th September 1998 will continue to receive this on the NHS. But all other cases after then will be prescribed treatment via a private prescription from their GP. This will have to be paid for.

List of medical conditions associated with impotence

These will be treated via an NHS prescription and include:

  • Diabetes
  • Kidney failure (requires dialysis)
  • Kidney transplant
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Poliomyelitis
  • Prostate cancer/Prostate surgery (removal of the prostate gland)
  • Pelvic surgery (radical surgery)
  • Pelvic injury
  • Single gene neurological condition
  • Spina bifida
  • Spinal cord injury


NHS prescriptions

However, if you are eligible for NHS treatment you will still have to pay for your prescription unless you fall into one of the following exemption categories:

  • People who are in receipt of, or have a partner who receives a social security benefit such as income support; jobseekers allowance (income based); pension credit (guarantee credit) or tax credits. This only applies if your family income is less than £15, 050 in total.
  • People aged 60 and above
  • People with a continuing physical disability. This means that they are unable to go out unless they have help from another person.
  • People receiving cancer treatment are exempt from prescription charges from 1st April 2009.
  • People with the following medical conditions are exempt from prescription charges: diabetes; epilepsy; myasthenia gravis; under active thyroid; parathyroid or pituitary gland; permanent fistula which requires constant dressing.
  • People who are NHS in-patients

If you are exempt from prescription charges then apply for an exemption certificate. This is available from your GP, local health authority or hospital.

Prescription charges are currently £7.20 for a single item, £28.25 for a 3 month pre-paid certificate and £104 for a 12 month pre-payment certificate. (Source: NHS Choices: Help with health costs: 20.11.2009)

Private prescriptions

If you are not eligible for NHS treatment then you will have to pay for a private prescription. You will have to pay the full cost of this, which is dictated by the cost of the actual medicine and, a pharmacist’s fee for supplying the medicine.

So how do you obtain a private prescription?

Your GP (or any GP) can provide you with a private prescription. But, your GP can only do this if the medication you need is not available on the NHS.

If you choose to see a GP at another practice then bear in mind that he/she can charge you for supplying you with a private prescription.

You can choose to see a GP with a private practice but also bear in mind that he/she will not be able to issue you with an NHS prescription. So you will have to pay for these.

A private prescription can be used for repeat medications. So, if you require further treatment your GP will have to note the type and amount of repeat treatments you need. This will be done on your prescription.

Take this to your local pharmacy where the pharmacist will stamp the prescription. He or she will do this each time you visit until you have used all your pre-agreed treatment.

Will my private medical insurance pay for impotence treatment?

This is not usually covered by private medical insurers but check the terms of your policy.

Cost of impotence medication

The cost includes the prescription charge plus a dispensing fee but this will vary between different pharmacies. So it is a good idea to shop around and compare prices. As a rough guide you can expect to pay the following (without the dispensing fee):

  • Caverject injection powder (sold as Alprostadil) 20mcg/ml: £11.94 (includes vial, pre-filled syringe and needles).
  • Tadalafil (sold as Cialis): 10mg: 4 tablets: £24.99
  • Vardenafil (sold as Levitra): 5mg: 8 tablets: £33.19
  • Sildenafil (sold as Viagra): 50mg: 4 tablets: £19.34

These are just a few examples (Source:

You can always use an online pharmacy rather than a high street chemist which means that your medication will be delivered to your door. This is handy in terms of time and convenience. Examples of these include Allcures and Pharmacy2u. Both of these have an NHS mail order contract which means that they are licensed to sell medicines.

But before you choose one of these pharmacies you still need a prescription from your GP beforehand.

Online prescriptions

Another option is to visit a website which offers an online consultation as well as supplying this medication. They can supply you with a prescription and the appropriate drug which often saves time.

But, a word of warning about this: if you are going to purchase erectile dysfunction medicine online then make sure that you do so from a legal and regulated website. It is a good idea to check that it has an NHS contract such as the two online pharmacies mentioned above.

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain has plenty of advice on their website about internet pharmacies. Their ‘ protecting the public’ section has a series of downloadable documents (PDFs) about professional standards and guidelines for online pharmacies.

The danger with buying medicines especially prescription medicines online is that there is no guarantee that they are safe, effective or of a high standard. You can end up buying a medicine from an illegal website which may put your health at risk.

Avoid any websites which sell medicine for erectile dysfunction (and an online ‘ GP’) but without the need for a prescription. The internet cannot diagnose the cause of your impotence and prescribe a suitable treatment without knowing anything about you, your medical history etc. Many of these websites are unregulated which makes them too much of a risk.

That is why there is no substitute for visiting your GP, discussing your problem, undergoing a full examination and then finding out what your treatment options are. Your GP will issue you with a prescription which is tailored to your individual needs.

This does not rule out buying your medicine online. It is a good way of doing so and can be cheaper as well but speak to your GP first.

This is designed to protect you and your health.

Impotence medication is discussed in more detail in the next section.

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