News Monday March 7, 2011

MEP Viagra allowances criticised

Members of European Parliament (MEPs) are allowed to claim free Viagra, on a healthcare scheme that costs UK taxpayers almost £3 million per year, it has been revealed.

The Daily Mail reports that MEPs can claim Viagra if they have erectile dysfunction as the result of a serious injury. They can also claim for anti-ageing products, slimming treatments and cosmetic surgery including breast surgery.

Sources that the paper quotes criticise the allowances as unnecessary and excessive, particularly at a time when the British economy is in such bad shape. However, officials from the European Parliament have defended the scheme, arguing that MEPs' jobs leave them away from home for long periods of time, in countries where they are not always covered by public healthcare allowances.

There are 736 MEPs from a range of European countries. As well as MEPs themselves, their families can also claim private healthcare expenses.

This is not the first occasion on which there has been debate surrounding the question of whether erectile dysfunction drugs should be included on free healthcare schemes. In America, the press have been reporting the case of the Milwaukee teachers' union, who have been arguing – so far unsuccessfully – that Viagra, Levitra and Cialis should be included by teacher's free healthcare insurance. The union claims that the district school board is discriminating against men by excluding impotence treatments. The school board argues that these drugs are primarily used for recreational sex and not out of medical necessity. The case is ongoing.

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