August 31, 2009

For Common Male Problem, Hope Beyond a Pill

By Kelley Luckstein

If you watch enough television, you’d think that treating erectile dysfunction was as effortless as popping a pill and then whirling your partner around the living room in a romantic dance. Correcting erectile dysfunction, alas, is not so simple — and it can be rather costly. One Viagra pill, for example, the most common way to treat erection problems, costs about $15.


An estimated 30 million men in this country experience erectile dysfunction. Nearly a third of men in their 50s experience E.D., whereas more than half of those in their 60s have the problem.


If you’re hoping to have Viagra-aided sex twice a week, your bill for the entire year could run around $1,500. If you’re fortunate enough to have insurance that covers the medications, your co-pay will be on the high side, around $40 for a one-month supply of six to eight pills — bringing your annual bill to a more manageable $500 or so. There are no generic versions of E.D. meds yet.


Even among the name-brand drugs, which also include Cialis and Levitra, the medications do not work for about half of the men with E.D., says Dr. Ajay Nehra, professor of urology at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. He is also president of the Sexual Medicine Society, an association of health care professionals.


And yet, as it turns out there are other treatments for E.D. And some of them are more cost-effective than the brand-name pills advertised on television.


Most insurers and Medicare cover the surgery, so your out-of-pocket costs will be minimal. This might be the most cost-effective strategy of all since, according to Dr. Nehra, 80 percent of implants last 10 years.


NY Times by Lesley Alderman, 08/29/09

Tags: erectile dysfunction, Urology, Urology

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