National insurance to cover Viagra in fertility treatments from April

The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry has decided to make the erectile dysfunction drug Viagra applicable for coverage by national health insurance from April, but only for use in fertility treatments.

The move was approved earlier in the day by the Central Social Insurance Medical Council, an advisory body to the health minister.

It will become part of national health insurance coverage for fertility treatments that will start at the beginning of new fiscal year in April. The insurance will only cover cases in which there is a diagnosis of “male sterility due to erectile dysfunction.”

The health ministry plans to establish requirements for medical institutions that are able to prescribe the drug.

Viagra was developed in the United States and approved for manufacturing and sales in Japan in 1999, but at the time, the health ministry decided that it was not suitable for national health insurance coverage. Users had to bear the full expenses for diagnosis and treatment.

On Wednesday, the ministry also approved a total of 12 drugs with five ingredients related to fertility treatment for national health insurance coverage, including another erectile dysfunction drug, Cialis, and a drug to induce ovulation.