Magazine article Drug Topics

It's Up, Down: Medicaid Covers Viagra, but Insurers Cite Safety Concerns

Magazine article Drug Topics

It's Up, Down: Medicaid Covers Viagra, but Insurers Cite Safety Concerns

Article excerpt

Medicaid must cover Viagra (sildenafil, Pfizer), but a number of private insurers--some citing safety concerns--won't. Those safety concerns have prompted a consumer advocacy group to urge the FDA to add "important information about the drug's dangers" to the labeling and patient information leaflets. Pfizer, which makes the drug, said, "Any challenges to the safety of Viagra are factually and medically incorrect."

Earlier this month HCFA chief Nancy-Ann DeParle told the National Governors Association that under current law vira must be covered by Medicaid when a physician believes it is medically necessary to treat erectile dysfunction. DeParle said "the number of Medicaid beneficiaries that could be diagnosed with erectile dysfunction is very small," because only 10% of the enrollees are adult men. She said states can use prior-authorization programs, refill limits, and retrospective drug use reviews to ensure that America's hottest-selling pill isn't being abused.

At least two insurers, Prudential HealthCare and Humana Inc., have cited safety grounds for deciding not to cover the $10-a-pop impotency treatments. Other companies, including Kaiser Permanente, said cost was the reason they wouldn't pay for the Rx

The FDA has received reports of at least 30 deaths of Viagra users since the Rx burst on the market in March. …

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