CVS Health Corp. has dropped the erectile dysfunction drug Viagra from its list of covered medicine for drug insurance benefits.

Although the drug will still be available for sale at CVS/pharmacy stores, it will no longer be covered for those who want to get it under CVS/Caremark's prescription benefit insurance.

The Pfizer-produced drug is among over two dozen prescription drugs that the health care company is dropping from its list of covered medicines, which include many widely prescribed drugs for multiple sclerosis and diabetes.

CVS explained that the medicines that were dropped from the list of drugs that it covers have cheaper equivalent drugs which are also under its insurance plan. In the case of Viagra, for instance, patients can be covered for Eli Lilly & Co.'s Cialis.

"For those drugs that are removed, equally effective products with lower overall costs remain available," CVS said. "Since introducing our industry-leading and rigorous approach ... in 2012, we have delivered significant savings for our plan sponsors."

Companies paying CVS for the prescription drug benefits of their employees want to keep cost under control and by narrowing the list of drugs approved for coverage, CVR can help encourage patients to get the cheaper versions.

Some pharmacists, however, are not amenable to giving customers with no choice. Pharmacist Janet Chin said that she does not like to restrict patients and while this can cut costs and streamline work, she said that some patients may get different results when they take new drugs.

Some, for instance, may have small reactions to certain brands. Changing medications can also be uncomfortable for older patients who have gotten used to certain size and shape of drugs.

CVS was initially a discount retail chain but it has grown to become increasingly influential in the drug industry. In 2007, it acquired Caremark making it the second-biggest pharmaceutical benefits manager on behalf of insurers and employers in the U.S.

Its status makes CVS' coverage decisions crucial for drug makers such as Viagra's maker Pfizer, which is estimated to get $1.7 billion in Viagra sales next years. A Pfizer spokesman said that the company is committed to make sure that patients can have access to their medicines.

"Viagra continues to be available to millions of patients in the marketplace, including many patients whose pharmacy benefit is managed by Caremark," Steve Danehy said

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