Got the ED Prescription, Get It Filled

Erectile dysfunction prescriptions left unfilled in three quarters of diagnosed

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Chris Galloway, M.D.

(RxWiki News) Some men might find it embarrassing or difficult to seek treatment for sexual problems. Though a lot of men with erectile dysfunction make it to the doctor for help, only a few actually take it to the next step.

Only a quarter of men who are diagnosed with erectile dysfunction (ED) filled a prescription to treat the condition, a recent study has found.

Although medicines can successfully treat the condition and improve quality of life, undertreatment of erectile dysfunction is still common, according to the researchers.

"Take your ED medications as prescribed."

Researchers, led by Omer Cakir, MD, of the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, examined how often men used medical therapies for erectile dysfunction and how often men had other illnesses related to the condition.

The study identified 6,228,509 men who were diagnosed with erectile dysfunction over a 12-month period ending June 2011.

Patients who filled a prescription to treat erectile dysfunction containing phosphodiesterase type 5 inhibitor (PDE5i), like sildenafil (Viagra), tadalafil (Cialis) or vardenafil (Levitra) were considered treated.

Patients could also be prescribed urethral prostaglandins, a prostaglandin injection or androgen replacement therapy (ART).  Prostaglandins are fatty hormones that control inflammation and blood flow.

Untreated patients were classified as those who were diagnosed with erectile dysfunction but did not fill a prescription to be treated.

Researchers tracked how often medications were prescribed, the age of the patients and related illnesses.

Among the men diagnosed with erectile dysfunction, a little more than a quarter were treated. About 75 percent of the patients went untreated.

Less than 2 percent of patients used some kind of prostaglandin therapy. The most commonly prescribed medicines were PDE5i and ART at 75.2 and 30.6 percent of all prescriptions, respectively.

Men with hypogonadism, which means the body’s sex glands do not produce enough hormones, were treated more often than men who also had prostate cancer. Specifically, 51 percent of men with hypogonadism and 15 percent of men with prostate cancer were treated.

The number of men treated did not vary significantly for other illnesses related to erectile dysfunction.

"Despite the high ED prevalence, most patients receive no treatment," the researchers wrote in their report. "Undertreatment of ED continues to be common, even though the treatments have a proven efficacy and quality of life impact."

The study, funded by Havana Day Dreamers Foundation, Goldstein Fund in Male Pelvic Health and the SIU Urology Endowment, was presented May 6 at the American Urological Association's annual meeting.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
May 9, 2013
Last Updated:
September 30, 2013