A spokesperson from the MHRA was quoted as saying they were glad of the change because it would prevent men from buying unregulated pills illegally on the internet. This is the same agency that does week-long raids every year on abortion pills

Great news for Britain: men with erectile dysfunction can now buy Viagra over the counter, so long as a pharmacist agrees. What a fantastic coup this is for a country which has such a huge commitment to reproductive health – huge enough that our rates of death in childbirth still lag far behind many of our European counterparts, including Poland, Belarus and Greece. Huge enough that we still haven’t fully decriminalised abortion despite the recommendations of GPs, gynaecologists and the British Medical Association. Huge enough that Northern Irish women still can’t access abortion where they live (except in certain, extremely restrictive circumstances), and only won the right to access free abortion services in England this year. Doesn’t it feel great to live in real civilisation?

I don’t begrudge anyone access to medication they are in need of, and there’s no doubt that erectile dysfunction is a physical problem with additionally damaging psychological effects. But when men are winning the right to erections sooner than most UK women (bar Scottish women, who won the right a few months ago) are legally allowed to take abortion pills they’ve already been prescribed by a doctor in the comfort of their own homes – rather than being left to bleed and throw up in the street after having to take them in front of someone in a clinic a long way away from home, probably with a couple of screaming protesters outside to compound the trauma – I can’t help but wonder whether the Government has its priorities right.

A spokesperson for the Medication and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) was quoted as saying, in relation to the Viagra decision today, that they were glad of the change because it would prevent men from buying unregulated pills illegally on the internet. That’s a noble goal indeed, and one which has concerned doctors for decades in relation to women and the abortion pill, sales of which are going up. How do we know they’re going up? Because of seizures done this year during a week-long raid by the same MHRA which just professed its happiness that men can now buy Viagra over the counter.

Despite lobbying by doctors themselves, procuring abortion pills yourself in the UK is covered by criminal law rather than healthcare regulation. In fact, the UK has the most stringent laws for abortion in Europe bar Ireland, and they are not merely dinosaur laws which are no longer practically applied. In 2015, a woman was jailed in Newcastle for two-and-a-half years for terminating her pregnancy using abortion pills she’d bought online. The (male) judge decided she would have to serve a custodial sentence and was quoted as saying during sentencing: “This offence does involve extinguishing a life about to begin.” Hers is not an isolated case.

What the Government has said today is that men can be trusted with their penises, whether or not they’ve consulted their GP, but women can’t be trusted with their wombs.

Viagra began its life as a cardiovascular pill for angina in medical trials when men began reporting an unusual side effect. This is important not just because it makes for a marginally interesting anecdote to impress your friends with but because it affects the heart and blood flow throughout the body – something worth bearing in mind when you’re handing such medication out without a prescription.

People are notorious for discounting medical warnings and sharing the pills they’re given – that’s part of the reason why we’re facing an antibiotic apocalypse. So announcing that Viagra can be bought over the counter is more of a big deal than it first might seem. Even small overdoses can have very serious consequences.

Yes, the release comes with caveats: it shouldn’t be sold directly to people with “severe cardiovascular disorder”, liver or kidney failure, or for those on medication which might react badly in conjunction with it. But all of this relies on a quick chat with a pharmacist and self-disclosure, which can’t be backed up by medical tests or records. If women can’t even be trusted to put a pill in their mouths the right way outside a clinic which has prescribed it to them, I struggle to see why men should be trusted prescription-free with a medicine like Viagra.

There are many medications in the UK which can’t be purchased over the counter in the UK but can be in other countries, because of the dangers of misuse: teeth-whitening strips, melatonin, Valium, many painkillers and sleeping aids come under this umbrella. Britain has extremely strict laws surrounding what its citizens can purchase without the supervision of a doctor. The exception we’re making when it comes to boners is a big one.

Today, men’s health was privileged, in a country where women’s health remains chronically underfunded and defined by unacceptably bad outcomes. It isn’t good enough.

http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/viagra-buy-over-counter-abortion-pill-men-women-compared-a8080851.html