By Rebecca Ejifoma
With the daily increase in erectile dysfunction among Nigerian men, some medical experts in the country have warned men against some medications, taking a lot of alcohol and smoking among lifestyles that predispose them to the condition while advising pharmacists to evaluate such patients as part of efforts to combat it.
According to Senior Lecturer with the Lagos State College of Medicine, Dr Funmilade Omisanjo, at the Pfizer Pharmacy Academy in Lagos the current figures of erectile dysfunction in Nigeria suggest that at least 30% to 40% of persons who are above age 40 will have some degree of erectile dysfunction – the mild form of dysfunction.
“By the time you take men aged 60 and above, at least 25% of them will have the very severe form of erectile dysfunction. What that means is that if you sit among a group of 50 years old you can expect one of every two to have some degree of erectile dysfunction. For most of them it will be the very mild form; that is he can still have some sexual intercourse but may find out the extent of the hardness of his penis is not what it used to be because we measure erectile dysfunction not in the presence or absence of erection.” he explained.
Omisanjo described the remote and unseen causes of this condition as age-related. “For most people, it is basically an age-related thing. As they get older you there will be some deteriorating in their sexual function – like in women who attain menopause. We would loosely termed Andropause and all that for men who are above 50 years.”
He added that age and lifestyle are very important factors. Obesity is necessitated with that, lack of exercise, especially in people who do sedentary work or people who don’t perform any physical activity. That kind of lifestyle will predispose them to erectile dysfunction; smoking, taking a lot of alcohol.
The Consultant Urologist said: “Most of these recreational drugs people take have side effects on erection negatively. Then of course you have various co-morbidities like diabetes mellitus, hypodermia, people who have problems with high level of cholesterol in their system, high blood pressure, people who have problems with their nerves, then of course there are medications people take that have various erectile dysfunction as a side effect. These are some of the function that predisposed men to erectile dysfunction.”
When asked if herbal concoction treats the condition, the expert affirmed that as much as those herbal drinks work, they have some side effects. Hence, he urges against it. “Curiously, you may find out that the local things these men take do work sometimes. Even when they work it will come at the expense of some other things.
“An example; most of the local things people take are invariably things that have been soaked in alcohol. Alcohol in itself can be a risk factor for erectile dysfunction. Besides, constant intake of alcohol can have other side effects on the liver and all that. You can never tell what the concentrations of these things are. We don’t encourage men to take herbal remedies for the treatment of erectile dysfunction. Rather, we tell them to seek experts’ opinion and treatment because they have well proven medications that work.”
More importantly, erectile dysfunction can be a pointer of other problems that a man may have. Omisanjo disclosed that to treat erectile dysfunction, it is important to evaluate the patient fully because some men with this may have some cardiovascular diseases that would need to be sorted out. “So it is not enough for the man to feel he has erectile dysfunction and just go about taking herbal remedies, which as I said – even if they work – invariably have other effects.”
On the role of the pharmacists, Omisanjo urged them to discuss with patients, adding that when there is some degree of erectile dysfunction, encourage the patient to see an expert. “The pharmacists should not only be interested in dispensing the medication.”
Speaking to the over 500 retail pharmacists present at the workshop, Chairman of the occasion and Regional Director, Howes Consulting Group, Pharm. Lere Baale addressed the importance of new medication on patient management.
“Every time you come up with a new medication, for every dollar you spend on new innovation, you will save as much as eight dollars on hospitalisation. Typically which is costing the US economy 300 billion on both hospitalisation and associated costs of manning for those people, and they will be able to build their skills on the particular therapy area. They now have options or multiple options as to what they can do.”
According to Baale, the training will augment the knowledge of pharmacists based on the group of medication for that therapy area, as he dissuaded them from recommending cheaper brands in place of expensive ones, stating that it leads to complications. “That you think a medicine is cheap does not mean the pharmacological profile and the biopharmaceutical profile are the same. In fact, it creates more problem when the patient would need to go back to the hospital, because the patient is going to be hospitalised, and when the patient takes a bed space that he shouldn’t have taken in the first instance – in a country like ours where we do not have enough bed space – then the compounding effects will be more than imagined.”
“If somebody needs to be given a particular brand, you cannot use pricing alone to determine which brand is the best to be picked. A number of people that will use pricing alone without a means of protecting quality, such practice will lead them to become victims of substandard drugs, because many have been blinded on medications that they should have been able to use to manage Glaucoma”, he explained.
Firmly determined to kindle pharmacists on patient management and other clinical applications as well as keep them abreast of daily medical information, Marketing Director of Pfizer Nigeria and East Africa, Winston Ailemoh, says the Academy is to provide latest up-to-date medical information to equip these pharmacists so they too can best provide quality Healthcare services to patients within their neighbourhood.
“When we talk about the pharmacy world, we recognise that pharmacists practice in different segments: communities or neighbourhood, hospitals and there are pharmacists within the academic sector (teaching pharmaceutical students at teaching hospitals). Hence, we have created pharmacy Academy where we can engage these different sets of pharmacists. The one we have here is strictly for community pharmacist.”
Strictly for Lagos, Ailemoh emphasised that what they did was segment Lagos into eight places covering from the extreme of every axis including: Badagry, Mowe, Abuleegba, Sango and Festac. “This is the first in 2016. But we will go to Port-Harcourt for same programme that is going to represent the east on June 9th. After which, we will be going to Accra, Ghana for the same meeting by first week of July. Then towards the end of July we will be going to Abuja for the same meeting to represent the Northern part of Nigeria.”