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Lifestyle drugs -- chiefly Viagra -- are costing General Motors $17 million a year and the cost is passed along to car, truck and SUV consumers. The blue pill is covered under GM's labor agreement with United Auto Workers, as well as benefit plans for salaried employees.

GM executives estimate health care adds $1,500 to the price of each vehicle but they do not break out how much of the premium is caused by erectile dysfunction expenses. GM provides health care for 1.1 million employees, retirees and dependents and is the world's largest private purchaser of Viagra.

GM recently raised the co-pay for erectile dysfunction drugs to $18 under a new agreement with the UAW and the company has also pared benefits for salaried workers.

The automaker spends almost $5.6 billion each year on health care. While lifestyle drugs are a small fraction of the total medical bill, every health care expense is added into the price of every new vehicle and is a drag on the struggling goliath's earnings.

Given the large number of aging autoworkers in the U.S., the industrys Viagra tab and bill for other erectile dysfunction drugs is certain to continue rising.

Neither Ford nor Chrysler will disclose the amount spent on erectile dysfunction drugs.

While many government and company health plans have eliminated impotence drugs from coverage plans, GM has more than two retirees for every active worker on its rolls and must negotiate eliminating the drugs from the union health plan with the UAW.

 

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