by Christopher A. Julka

About the Article

The recent introduction of the impotence drug Viagra has been hailed by some as an event as significant as the advent of the birth control pill. In the following note, Christopher Julka examines parallels that are emerging between these two wonder drugs, as well as the ways in which the comparison appears to fail. Like the pill, Viagra appears to hold the potential for a “sexual revolution.” Unlike the pill, Viagra is poised to have its greatest impact on older men. Mr. Julka surveys the current controversies surrounding this new drug, which include its possible hazard to men with heart problems, other problems usually associated with a sexually active population, namely the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, unintended pregnancies, and AIDS, as well as whether insurance companies or the government should be obliged to pay for the drug. In the long run, Mr. Julka argues, the most important issue will be the latter. Already bringing this issue to the fore are various recent developments, including a U.S. Supreme Court’s opinion finding that reproduction is a major life activity within the scope of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and activities by the Clinton administration, including a mandate for Viagra coverage by Medicaid, as well as a proposal that Medicare cover the cost of prescriptions. Mr. Julka argues that the government has yet to take the steps that would logically commit itself to providing Viagra as an entitlement of older Americans. He advises against doing so, contending that Viagra raises a number of public policy concerns which, if not visible now, could have an impact as immense in future decades as the pill has had in recent memory.

About the Author

Christopher A. Julka is a member of the University of Illinois College of Law class of 2000, serving as a Notes Editor on The Elder Law Journal during the 1999-2000 academic year.

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