Viagra Day: 20 Years Ago Today, We Met the Little Blue Pill

viagra

Getty Images Viagra.

On March 27, 1998, Pfizer introduced a little blue pill to the world that would soon bring upon the latest sexual revolution. Viagra, a small, light-blue, diamond-shaped pill with rounded corners emblazoned with the company name on it, was about to change the sex lives of millions across the world.

Viagra was first developed as a medication to treat high blood pressure and angina. During clinical trials, researchers noticed that the drug had some very unexpected side effects. Viagra was soon repurposed and explored as a possible erectile dysfunction treatment. The subsequent trials were a huge success, and Pfizer’s new “magic pill” would be approved by the FDA in 1998.

Since Viagra was put on the market, it has been met with competition from other pharmaceutical giants. Unfortunately, the market has been flooded with counterfeit drugs, often containing harmful if not deadly ingredients. Even authentic Viagra can be harmful if used without the approval of your personal physician with a working knowledge of all of your current medical conditions and medications.

Here’s what you need to know:


1. Pfizer Did Not Invent Erectile Dysfunction

viagra

Getty ImagesA couple holding hands.

Sometimes, when a pharmaceutical company comes out with a new drug to market, they present some sort of new disorder that no one has ever heard of to accompany it. Advertisers present a list of symptoms that just about anyone could have experienced at one point or another, and then point to a disorder that the general public is unfamiliar with. Not to worry, there is a way to treat the disorder; the new medication that is being marketed. Of course, that is not to say that these new drugs are not legitimate; new disorders, illnesses, syndromes and other ailments are being discovered all the time, and more often than not, medications need to be developed to treat these ailments.

Erectile dysfunction, however, is not something that the pharmaceutical giants invented. It is something that millions of men struggle with, and it is not limited to men who are in their “golden years.” Erectile dysfunction can be caused by high fluctuations in blood pressure and other issues involving the heart, weight, diabetes, stress, depression, low self-esteem, neurological disorders, injuries, interactions with other prescription drugs, interactions with recreational drug use, interaction with alcohol consumption, performance anxiety, and many other contributing factors that can make it difficult for a man to achieve, and maintain, an erection.

Failure to achieve or maintain an erection can cause embarrassment and result in further performance anxiety, thus making a person less likely to want to try again. The entire experience can be humiliating and frustrating at any age. Plus, of course, impotence in the bedroom usually affects more than one person. It can be embarrassing for a person to be unable to perform in front of their partner. From their partner’s perspective, as kind and patient as he or she may be, it often leaves one wondering “is it me? Did I do something? Am I not sexy enough?” Pfizer determined that there was a very real problem here and got to work on finding a solution.


2. Pfizer Introduces The Little Blue Pill

Bob Dole

Getty imagesSenator Bob Dole

Pfizer first introduced the little blue pill into the market 20 years ago today. For the countless number of men who had been suffering with erectile dysfunction for years, the little blue pill was a beacon of home; an opportunity to revitalize and reinvigorate their sex lives.

“Viagra currently holds 45% of the sexual dysfunction market share, with competitor Cialis in close second, according to industry researcher IMS Health. There were 8 million Viagra prescriptions written in 2012 with total sales of about $2 billion,” wrote CNN.com.

Viagra soon became known as the hottest little pill in the world. However, Pfizer did not want the public to just focus on the prospect on having sex for hours, as appealing as it might be. Pfizer also wanted to use the advent of Viagra as a way to put the spotlight on men’s health. As such, they hired a spokesperson that America would listen to – Senator Bob Dole. “One of the most important public health issues facing this country is encouraging men to see their doctors. For example, diagnosis of erectile dysfunction can help identify underlying diseases like diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular disease. I’m convinced this campaign can help promote a dialogue between doctors and patients and help men pay attention to health problems they might otherwise be afraid to discuss,” said Senator Dole.

3. Viagra Was First Developed as a Heart Medication.

Viagra

Getty ImagesViagra

Sildenafil Citrate was developed by British doctors Peter Dunn, Nicholas Terrett and Albert Wood as a way of treating high blood pressure and angina. The drug was then called UK-92480. During trials, the results were disappointing as far as treating hypertension. An interesting side effect noted by multiple volunteers in the drug trials was that they experienced powerful, long-lasting erections, some of which lasted for an hour or more. Other volunteers noted experiencing more frequent, powerful erections in the days that followed the trials, after taking only one dose of UK-92480.

The doctors working on the trials decided to shelf developing UK-92480 as a medication to treat angina and hypertension and to instead focus on how the drug affected the biochemical pathways of the blood vessels that control and maintain erections. Pfizer soon began to run pilot studies, and the results were amazing. Pfizer scientists were soon ready to present their results to the FDA for approval.

“The FDA approves the use of the drug Viagra to treat erectile dysfunction. In the following weeks, experts estimate, U.S. pharmacists dispense more than 40,000 Viagra prescriptions,” reports CNN.com.


4. Who Exactly Needs Viagra?

viagra

Getty ImagesPromoting Viagra.

It is undisputed that erectile dysfunction is more common in older men. However, that in no way means that younger man do not benefit from its uses. In fact, men can start to experience erectile dysfunction to a certain degree as early as in their 20s.

“Rafael Palmeiro seems an unlikely Viagra pitchman. The Texas Rangers slugger is only 37 and won’t admit to having erection problems, yet he recently agreed to appear in ads promoting the drug. The deal has made people wonder whether Palmeiro really represents men with erectile dysfunction, or whether Pfizer, the company that makes Viagra, wants to persuade young men to try it for fun. It’s true that erectile dysfunction is more common in older men, but many potential Viagra users are hardly senior citizens: About 40% of 40-year-old men in the U.S. have some degree of erectile dysfunction. Most Viagra users today, according to Pfizer, are in their early to mid 50s. So it makes sense that the company would want to reach more men around Palmeiro’s age,writes webmd.com.

According to studies, 50 million men in the US alone suffer from erectile dysfunction. While men can experience erectile dysfunction as early as their 20s, ED tends to become much more prevalent in a man’s 50s or 60s. Some men take Viagra on a daily basis; others tend to take it as needed, depending on their lifestyle.

It is of the utmost importance that a person consult with their doctor before taking Viagra or a similar medication, such as Cialis or Levitra. A physician must review your overall health, particularly your cardiovascular health, and study a list of the medications you are currently taking, to avoid a potentially fatal medication combination. Once your physician decides you are a good candidate for Viagra or a similar drug, you can easily pick it up at the drugstore of your convenience.


5. Dangerous Counterfeits Have Flooded The Market

counterfeit drugs

Getty ImagesCounterfeit pharmaceuticals.

As with most medications, Viagra, or even a generic equivalent, can be expensive, and people look for alternative ways of finding it. For many consumers, this means going online. Extremely realistic counterfeit drugs can be purchased through so-called online “pharmacies.” Sometimes, the drugs sold through online pharmacies are legitimate and authentic. Other times, however, dangerous, counterfeit products are being sold.

In 2011, Pfizer ran a study to explore the counterfeit drugs that were being marketed as authentic Viagra, and the results were disturbing.

“In March 2011, Pfizer Global Security studied the search results for the term ‘buy VIAGRA’ to see how many online pharmacies were selling counterfeit VIAGRA. The study was conducted using the top 2 search engines over a 5-day period. During this time, 22 unique sites consistently appeared among the top search results claiming to sell VIAGRA manufactured by Pfizer. Pfizer Global Security then ordered VIAGRA from these sites and tested the chemical composition of the pills.”

As a result of the study, it was discovered that the counterfeit Viagra contained unsafe, potentially harmful ingredients:

“What we found in counterfeit VIAGRA:
Blue printer ink
Amphetamines, also known as “speed”
Metronidazole, a powerful antibiotic that could cause an allergic reaction, diarrhea, or vomiting
Too much active ingredient (or not enough), which may cause you harm
Binding agents, such as drywall, that prevent the tablet from breaking down in your system.”

Additionally, Pfizer scientists tested other counterfeit drugs as part of the study, and the results were just as disturbing:

“What we found in other counterfeit medications:
Toxic ingredients, such as boric acid, floor wax, brick dust, rat poison, and road paint
Ingredients that can have dangerous interactions with other medications you may be taking
A completely different medication with potentially harmful side effects.”

The complete study can be found here.

It is therefore urged that counterfeit medications, including Viagra, be avoided completely.

Genuine Viagra, however, seems to have made millions of Americans smile again.

Pfizer Comercial Viagra2012-07-09T23:01:27.000Z