How to fix our health budget crisis: have less sex
ONE councillor has come up with a novel way to cut the overspend in the health service -- tell couples to have less sex.
Cllr Brian Meaney of the Green Party was speaking after figures show that the spend on Viagra and similar drugs increased by 13pc in the HSE West area.
The figures for 2010 in the region -- the latest detailed data available -- show that medical card patients spent €1.42m on erectile dysfunction drugs, an increase of €167,000 on the €1.2m spent in 2009.
Public patients are restricted to purchasing four Viagra-type tablets per month by the HSE.
Mr Meaney said that the HSE should halve the monthly dosage in order to save money.
"When the HSE is poised to make further cutbacks, I don't think anyone could argue against a cut in the amount of Viagra dosages a patient receives each month if a cut can maintain services for, say, patients with intellectual disabilities," he said.
"The dosage of four tablets per month is on the generous side and there is nothing to stop these public patients purchasing Viagra privately if that is their wish."
The figures show that Limerick city and county has the highest public spend on Viagra and other erectile dysfunction drugs in the HSE West area.
The highest proportion of recipients of the drugs in 2010 were aged between 55 to 64; they spent 29pc of the total, or €412,834.
The numbers of men in the 65 to 69 age category purchasing Viagra through the public system was 12pc or €177,245.
Those in the 45 to 54 category accounted for 21pc or €308,623 of the spend.
The figures also show that there has been a percentage increase in the spend by those over 75 purchasing Viagra, accounting for 10pc or €145,841 compared to a 7pc share in 2008.
The statistics also show that those aged 25 to 34 account for 4pc or €41,114 of the spend.
Viagra and Cialis are the market leaders and both drugs regularly feature on the HSE's top 100 most commonly dispensed drugs.
The figures show that 19.6pc of the spend on erectile dysfunction drugs in the HSE West area was made in Co Galway; 14.8pc in Co Donegal; 11.7pc in Co Mayo; 10pc in Co Clare; 7.6pc in counties Sligo/Leitrim; and 6pc in Co Roscommon.
The HSE points out that Viagra is also prescribed for the treatment of Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension (PAR).
It says it is not possible to quantify on the information provided how much of the expenditure is for treating erectile dysfunction or how much for PAR or other conditions.