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London - The makers of Viagra are running a TV advert for the little blue pill for the first time.

The commercial is set to the Steve Harley and Cockney Rebel song Make Me Smile (Come Up And See Me).

The treatment for erectile dysfunction is now available over the counter without a prescription. A pack of four pills can be bought from high street chemists for £19.99 (about R330) without the need to visit a doctor first.

It can even be bought in supermarket pharmacies as part of the grocery shop, with stores launching a price war.

The ad aired for the first time at 11.15pm on Friday night on Channel 4 during a documentary about Liverpool football star Mo Salah.

It features a middle-aged couple waking up and dancing together before a packet of Viagra Connect appears on screen.

Manufacturer Pfizer described it as the "story of a couple reconnecting as much as it is about his new-found sense of vitality".

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency announced last year that it would be reclassifying Viagra Connect tablets following a public consultation.

Experts said making the tablets more widely available will help men with erectile dysfunction who might not feel able to visit their GP.

Officials said they hoped the move will also help steer people away from buying drugs from websites operating illegally and selling unlicensed or counterfeit impotency medicines.

The move into the mainstream through TV advertisements will normalise the taking of Viagra, reducing any stigma.

Products linked to the nation’s sex habits – such as condoms – have been promoted on TV before, including during prime time viewing, but are always controversial.

Aurore Bourdeau, senior brand manager at Pfizer, said: "The television ad for Viagra Connect is a UK first.

"It is the first time this product has appeared on our screens and the first time any advertising for a medicine to treat the symptoms of erectile dysfunction has been shown.

"We hope that the ad will help to normalise erectile dysfunction and encourage men to seek advice and solutions.’ Pfizer said erectile problems affect up to one in five men – the equivalent of 4.3million men across the UK – but many do not seek medical help for their condition.

Men can buy the drug in pharmacies and online after answering a series of questions to help determine if the product is suitable for them.

Pharmacists determine whether treatment is appropriate for the patient and can give advice on erectile dysfunction, usage of the medicine, potential side effects and assess if further consultation with a general practitioner is required.

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