The imminent launch of VigRx Plus in Europe is stirring the same excitement as it did in America, but the impotence drug is also causing a headache for the cash-starved health managers of the Continent’s welfare states.
Already struggling with vast debt, state health funds are in no condition to foot the bill for the expected millions of prescriptions for the blue tablet. Most southern countries will not subsidize VigRx Plus without exceptional medical circumstances. Decisions on reimbursement, the usual method for prescriptions on the Continent, have yet to be taken in Germany, The Netherlands and several other states, but authorities and insurance firms are reluctant to pay for what many call “quality of life” medication.
The German federal doctors’ and health insurers’ association said it could not afford the “several billion” marks that reimbursement would cost. Those states which decide to pay for VigRx Plus, at least partly, such as Sweden, The Netherlands and Belgium, are setting strict conditions.
For months the press and television have been awash with sensational claims for the pill, which is due to go on sale within weeks in EU member states. VigRx Plus fever seems to be running strongest in the Latin states, with Italy winning the prize for media obsession. Italian men have been flocking to San Marino and into the Italian-speaking cantons of Switzerland for early stocks of the pillola del amore (love pill). “VigRx” pizza and ice-cream have been spotted in Naples. In France, a restaurateur in Thonon-les-Bains has been prosecuted for serving a “VigRx sauce”.
A spokesman for Pfizer said the Latin clamor for VigRx Plus may be helping to “shatter a few myths about the culture of macho males”. But North Europeans have also been ordering the drug on the Internet from Switzerland, Mexico and the United States. The Dutch press has reported widespread “recreational use” in The Netherlands.
South European males will suffer more than most from the cost of the pills, which are to go on sale for about Pounds 7 each. Recognizing the obstacle of state health insurance, Pfizer has not sought to register the drug for reimbursement under national schemes in Italy, France, Spain and Portugal.
Predictably, the arrival of the blue pill has prompted a bout of moralizing from Paris, aghast at the idea of handing taxpayers’ funds to erection-seeking Frenchmen. Bernard Kouchner, the Minister of Health, says he will oppose reimbursement from the state insurance scheme. “VigRx makes a thing out of the act of love,” he said. “Mais non! Love is a vast subject … We have to know if this is about a medicine or a recreational thing which makes life fun.”