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ON THE RISE; EXCLUSIVE NHS is spending record pounds 25M on sex drug Viagra Docs blame cannabis as more teenagers seek help.

Byline: By STEVE DINNEEN

SOARING demand is forcing Scotland's health boards to spend pounds 25million a year on impotence drug Viagra.

The number of patients being prescribed the blue pill is climbing by 20 per cent a year in some areas.

Experts believe cannabis use could be why more younger men and teens are being treated for impotence.

The majority of those taking Viagra are men under 40 - but there has been a marked increase in the number of teenage boys being treated for erectile dysfunction.

In the last two weeks, two experts have linked cannabis use with impotence in young men.

Ian Russell, an expert on sexual health at Dumfries and Galloway Royal Infirmary, revealed more Scottish teens than ever before are suffering impotence after smoking cannabis during puberty.

And Derek Rutherford, a specialist in sexual medicine for NHS Ayrshire and Arran, said he had prescribed Viagra to cannabis smokers.

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde spent pounds 6.6million over the past five years on the drug - the highest of any health board in Scotland.

Of that, pounds 1.7million was spent in the last year alone - a rise of 21 per cent.

Lanarkshire and Ayrshire spent pounds 1.4million and pounds 1.6million respectively.

It is believed so much is being spent in the west of Scotland because traditional health problems, such as heart disease and diabetes, coupled with the high incidence of smoking, all increase the likelihood of impotence.

NHS Grampian spent pounds 1.9million over five years, while NHS Dumfries and Galloway spent pounds 505,619 and NHS Borders just pounds 377,256.

Leading urologist Robyn Webber believes men are no longer embarrassed to admit they have problems in the bedroom.

She said: "Only a few years ago, it was quite rare for men to come forward and seek help for sexual problems. Now it is far more common.

"This is partly because of the reputation Viagra has as a wonder drug. Men think if they take it they will be cured.

"I have seen a huge success rate for patients with erectile dysfunction."

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Publication:Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:May 18, 2008
Words:355
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