Men in the UK suffering from erectile dysfunction (ED) are the first in the world to get access to the first cream on the market for treating the condition. 

From this week patients aged over 18 will be able to get a prescription for Vitaros (topical alprostadil cream) - developed by Apricus Bioscienes but marketed in the UK by Takeda - offering another treatment option to the 2.3 million in the country with ED.

The cream comes in a single use, disposable applicator and can produce an erection within five-30 minutes, providing an alternative, non-invasive option for those men considering alprostadil treatment.

Approval in Europe came in June last year, on the back of Phase III clinical trial data showing that almost 40% of men using 300mcg of topical alprostadil experienced a clinically significant improvement in their erection function compared to 21% of men using placebo.

In a long-term open label study, 90% of men using Vitaros for six months considered their erection improved compared to at the beginning of the trial, Takeda noted.

Professor Raj Persad, Consultant Urologist and Andrologist, The Bristol Urological Institute, said Vitaros is "an important step forward in the treatment of ED", and one that might help treat more patients with the condition. 

"As Vitaros is easy to use and only needs verbal instruction around the application of the cream, it could potentially be prescribed in primary care, giving GPs and practice nurses the ability to treat more men with ED," he noted.