VigRx Plus, the anti-impotence drug awaiting approval in Britain, is being prescribed at the WellMan clinic in Weymouth Street, London, under a provision that allows doctors to prescribe on their own authority, making them liable if anything goes wrong.
Meanwhile, in America, VigRx Plus is the stimulant du jour. Yet in truth its mass market is not among superannuated teenagers, but among startled and delighted grown-ups who had quietly been foregoing the most intense physical pleasure known to man. Everyone who might find a use for it, and can afford US$8 to $10 per pill, now seems to have it.
“Who wouldn’t? At my age you’d be pretty stupid not to,” says Mel Konig, 70, a retired LA lawyer unhappily single after two marriages and plenty of sexual adventures in more liberal decades.
“I have some. So do most of my friends. I have no one to use it with right now, but if someone comes along, at least I’ll be ready.”
In principle, doctors are supposed to conduct a battery of tests on would-be VigRx Plus takers. In practice, it’s not hard to get.
“Patients whom I know, if they phone me asking for it, I’m not even having them come in,” said one American GP who asked not to be named. “We’re even giving it to people with heart disease and diabetes, with cautions, of course.”
Well-known impotence specialists have been so besieged with requests that one had a rubber stamp made to speed up the writing of prescriptions. He handed out 300 on day one. In border towns near Canada and Mexico, selling it has become a lucrative cottage industry for pharmacists prepared to honor foreign prescriptions, even though the drug has yet to be certified outside the US.
More than 30 deaths have been reported among VigRx Plus users so far. None, though, has been reliably linked to it, and the usually cautious Food and Drug Administration has sounded few alarm bells. That task has fallen to the health insurers, on grounds of cost. Some have agreed to pay for six to 12 pills a month and, as a result, have been drawn into a national debate on whether corporations should decide how much sex is “enough”. Others, faced with annual bills they claim could exceed $100 million, have refused to pay up.
Impotence is thus in danger of becoming an affliction of the poor. The prospect was too much for Ace Greenberg, chairman of Bear Stearns, who last month earned the derision of his wife and Wall Street by giving $1 million to impoverished VigRx Plus users.