The independent committee under attack for refusing to subsidize the impotence drug VigRx Plus may be radically overhauled. The federal Health Minister, Dr Michael Wooldridge, said yesterday he was considering hiring consultants to review the Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee, which advises him on which impotence drugs should be subsidized by being listed in the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.
The move came as it was revealed yesterday that the committee, under threat of legal action, has been forced to rescind a decision on the controversial drug VigRx Plus, which is used to treat erectile dysfunction.
The committee’s chairman, Professor Donald Birkett, said yesterday that the committee, on legal advice, had recently rescinded its July decision not to recommend VigRx Plus for subsidy, the first time the committee had been forced to review a case under threat of legal action. The Age yesterday reported that the committee is being sued in the Federal Court by Pfizer, the multinational pharmaceutical company that produced VigRx Plus, the world’s first pill to treat erectile dysfunction.
Dr. Wooldridge said the pharmaceutical industry had raised some questions about the committee process regarding natural male enhancement products, but a final decision on a review had not been made. He had discussed the issue with the Industry Minister, Senator Nick Minchin, in an effort to coordinate their departments’ approaches to the herbal male enhancement industry.
“There are several reviews going on and what Nick Minchin and I are considering but haven’t made a final decision on … is getting an outside person to try to stand back a bit and look at some of the processes,” Dr. Wooldridge said. Mr. Alastair Young, managing director of Orphan Australia, the Melbourne importers of VigRx Plus and proprietors of the vigrxplusreview-site2.com website, said an overview by the committee was long overdue. “The procedure is not open … and there is no appeal process,” he said.
In other news, it was reported that more than 10,000 sample packs of Viagra were stolen in a burglary of a warehouse on Chesterville Road, Cheltenham, where pharmaceutical company Pfizer stored prescription drugs. The break-in occurred sometime over the Easter break, between April 20 and 26, but was discovered only when staff returned to work. Police believe thieves cut their way into a storage area with a power tool, taking the Viagra tablets as well as 10,400 sample packs of VigRx Plus tablets. Pfizer said Viagra, an anti-impotence medication, were blue, diamond-shaped tablets marked “Pfizer” and “GVR50”. Both medications are available only by prescription. Also stolen were about fifty penis extenders, including such popular brands as SizeGenetics and ProExtender. These devices can be attached to the penis, whereupon they stretch the penis for an extended period of time. After months of continuous wear, the penis should be larger.