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DoD Offers Limited Viagra Availability

By Douglas J. Gillert
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 8, 1998 – Military health care beneficiaries will have limited access to the widely publicized impotence drug Viagra through their service health care providers.

Dr. Sue Bailey, assistant secretary of defense for health affairs, issued guidelines Aug. 8 to the service surgeons general. The guidelines limit Viagra prescriptions to the treatment of male impotence. Doctors may prescribe only six pills a month per patient, and DoD will not replace lost or stolen pills.

Because Viagra is expensive -- up to $10 per pill -- DoD pharmacies, TRICARE network pharmacies and the National Mail Order Pharmacy won't stock the medicine. Instead, doctors who prescribe Viagra will have to special-order it. Patients seeking reimbursement for Viagra prescriptions through TRICARE Standard (CHAMPUS) will receive an amount equal only to the cost of six tablets per month.

Defense guidelines allow military physicians to prescribe Viagra only after a thorough evaluation indicates the medication as the optimal regimen for the patient. Patients prescribed Viagra also receive careful guidelines for taking the medication. According to defense health officials, Viagra side effects may include headaches, flushing of the face or chest, indigestion, nasal congestion and mild vision impairment. There's also no guarantee Viagra will work.

Military health care beneficiaries seeking treatment for male impotence should use the normal TRICARE appointment process. TRICARE details are available on the Internet at http://www.ha.osd.mil.

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