The roles of birth control pills and viagra in women and men, though not parallel, each in different ways impact and significantly influence sexual agency for both sexes. The debates concerning these medications have pointed out the gendered inconsistencies inherent in the U.S. healthcare’s political economyte! and revealed the ways in which insurance companies and nonmedical U.S. government agencies influence health decisions. While this is not, in itself, news) unpredictable and seemingly arbitrary decision making reveals how our health system is negatively impacted by the combined power of pharmaceutical companies defining illness, insurance companies regulating payment, and masculinist perspectives driving research. Of course, the way all of this is reported by the media provides most of the public’s information and framework for debate.

Another debate over access to Viagra concerns its ease of acquisition on the Internet. Shortly after Viagra became available, news stories appeared that trumpeted the little blue pill’s other contribution to the health of the American man: more men were making appointments to see their doctor. “Men are so consistently no - shows at doctors’ offices that insurers have come to count on it,” writes Susan Brink in U.S. News & World Report. Viagra’s availability resulted in men keeping their appointments, enabling doctors to diagnose problems aside from (but related to) erectile dysfunction. In the New York Times) Fred Brock writes that “for every million men who asked for Viagra, it was also discovered than an estimated , had untreated diabetes, , had untreated high blood pressure and , had untreated heart disease.” Newsweek’s Dan McGinn confirms these estimates, adding that a heart disease diagnosis “warms the heart of Pfizer VP Marie - Caroline Sainpy, whose cardiac - drug team sells treatments for those ailments.” Why am I not surprised?

Need Viagra? No prescription? No problem!” is the way online pharmacy advertisers pitch Viagra. Despite the manufacturer’s claims that erectile dysfunction is a serious medical condition that requires a physician diagnosis, Pfizer is not averse to Internet sales. Patient - physician communication in such a context is not capable of either diagnosing or treating the plethora of conditions of which erectile dysfunction is an unwanted result.

The procedure for ordering prescription drugs online was revealed in these news stories. At least two writers of the articles surveyed purchased Viagra over the Internet in order to demonstrate how easy this was to accomplish. In an article titled “Electric Kool - Aid Viagra,” Frank Rich of the New York Times reports that, after being charged a “consultation” fee and filling out an online medical history, a bottle of pills arrives by UPS from San Antonio, Texas. Of interest to Rich was the fact that he didn’t really have to communicate with a physician. He learns the name of his physician/ consultant only by reading the pill bottle: This doctor not only didn’t talk to me, but he didn’t consult with my primarycare physician to verify my purported medical history or see if I was telling the truth when I said I was not taking medications known to interact dangerously with Viagra.

Similarly, Jack Hitt, writing for the New York Times Magazine, fills out an online medical interview and answers a couple of questions. The next day, “barely hours after I had clicked the send button, the FedEx guy appeared with an envelope that rattled when he handed it to me.” Similarly, an article in U.S. News & World Report gives the details of a staffer who attempts to purchase Viagra online, including in the health questionnaire the fact “that he had had two open - heart surgeries.” Like Frank Rich and Jack Hitt, he too is “approved” and receives his supply of Viagra.