CVS to Drop Viagra Drug Coverage

For the last 15 years or so, men of a certain age have been able to look to their health insurance to support their sex lives and relationships at a time in life when the loss of function in the former can contribute to the deterioration of the latter. Health insurance companies have covered Viagra, the first drug approved by the Food and Drug Administration to address erectile dysfunction.

But that coverage is ending.

The company has announced the “little blue pill” is coming off of its list of covered drugs starting in 2016, according to CNBC.

CVS is the second-largest pharmacy chain in the United States but the company also manages pharmacy benefits through its Caremark business unit. As a pharmacy benefits manager, the company each year comes up with a list of drugs that it will and will not cover. Those lists are determined through negotiations with the pharmaceutical companies. This year, CVS/Caremark decided to drop Viagra from its list.

Why is CVS making this move? It’s probably cost. Bloomberg Business notes that the patent on Viagra expires in two years. After that, generic versions of Viagra will become available for a considerably lower price. Looking ahead, CVS likely sees that it doesn’t makes much sense paying a high price for Viagra when less expensive alternatives are right around the corner.

Lower-cost alternatives are already here. By removing Viagra from its list of covered drugs, CVS is starting to point patients toward less expensive erectile dysfunction drugs. According to Bloomberg, CVS will still cover Viagra competitor Cialis. Men who still cling to Viagra for the sexual health of their relationships will still be able to get the drug. But CVS told CNBC that they’ll have to pay the drug’s full cost.

Other patients who insist on Viagra can get it as a covered medication if their health insurance runs pharmacy benefits through at least one CVS competitor. Express Scripts told CNBC that it was able to negotiate pricing for both Viagra and Cialis on its 2016 list of covered drugs. But with generic competitors knocking on the door, Viagra is probably on its way out. Think about that the next time you see a Viagra commercial on television.

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