House votes to bar public funding for ED drugs
The U.S. House of Representatives voted on Friday to bar government insurance programs Medicare and Medicaid from paying for the erectile dysfunction (ED) drugs Viagra, Cialis and Levitra.
Currently, Medicaid spends approximately $15 million a year on ED drugs and the Congressional Budget Office predicts the government would spend $2 billion over 10 years on impotence treatments, once Medicare begins offering prescription drug coverage in 2006.
The bill must still pass in the Senate where a similar measure has also been introduced.
The pharmaceutical industry said it would work to keep the bill out of the Senate.
"Unfortunately, the House is telling these men (anti-impotence drug patients), 'Tough luck, you are on your own,' Ken Johnson, senior vice president of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) told The New York Times. "Hopefully, the Senate will view this important health issue with a little more compassion."
In passing the bill, 100 Democrats joined with 185 Republicans to approve the measure by a final vote of 285 to 121.
The measure is part of an overall spending bill providing more than $600 billion for a wide array of health and education programs including money for the National Institutes of Health, student loans and programs to fight AIDS.