Curbs on Viagra 'Unlawful' Makers Can Sue for Damages

By Aston, John; Frith, Maxine | The Birmingham Post (England), May 27, 1999 | Go to article overview

Curbs on Viagra 'Unlawful' Makers Can Sue for Damages


Aston, John, Frith, Maxine, The Birmingham Post (England)


The Government could be facing a multi-million pound damages claim over the anti-impotence drug Viagra after a High Court ruling yesterday that its original decision to restrict availability of the drug was unlawful.

Health Secretary Mr Frank Dobson's interim guidance to GPs not to prescribe Viagra when it was first licensed in the UK last September broke domestic and European law, Mr Justice Collins said.

He also ruled that Mr Dobson had unlawfully interfered with a GP's ethical and contractual duty to exercise professional judgment on whether patients should receive the drug. The judge gave Viagra's manufacturer, Pfizer, leave to pursue a damages claim for loss of profit from the time the health service circular containing the guidance was sent out.

Mr David Pannick QC, for Pfizer, said on behalf of the pharmaceutical company: "I would like to make it very clear that my clients may decide to pursue a claim for damages for loss of profits caused by the circular."

The NHS circular stopped the UK's 1.8 million impotence sufferers from getting the pounds 4.84 blue pills on the NHS.

The judge gave Pfizer 56 days in which to set out its claim in writing. Mr Pannick also said the company was considering seeking judicial review of Mr Dobson's recent decision to place Viagra on the so-called Schedule 11 which restricts NHS prescribing to 17 per cent of impotence patients. …

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