Erectile Dysfunction Wonder Drug Viagra Celebrates its 20th Birthday

viagraMarch 2018 will mark 20 years since Pfizer’s Viagra was granted approval by the FDA in America for the treatment of erectile dysfunction, a drug that revolutionised the sex lives of couples all across the globe and kick-started a huge market that would later include Cialis, Levitra and Spedra.

Pfizer discovered they had something incredible on their hands in the early 1990s, after completing several early trials of sildenafil citrate that proved rather futile as it’s intended use as a heart disease treatment.

However, male participants in these clinical trials were reporting that they were experiencing increased erections, even as much as several days after taking a dose of the drug.

Research scientist Dr Mike Wyllie was head of biology at the pharmaceutical company Pfizer through the development and launch of Viagra.

He says: “Viagra – as it’s used in its current form – was an accidental discovery. The drug was originally designed to help angina but an unexpected side effect was that the men trailing it were getting erections.

“As well as dilating their coronary blood vessels, as expected, the drug was acting on the blood vessels in the penis.

“And Viagra very nearly didn’t happen at all. In fact it was very nearly shelved for being morally wrong: there were concerns over “selling sex”. And very few people thought there was a market for it.

“Back in the early 1990s, erectile dysfunction, or impotence, as it was more commonly known, was not considered a problem. Or certainly not one that was ever talked about.

“And the vast majority of people thought it was “all in the mind”. GPs said patients didn’t mention it, but then they also never asked about it, not like today.

“Viagra’s biggest achievement in the past 20 years has been to put the very embarrassing, but very widespread problem of erectile dysfunction on the map, and that can only be a good thing.”

The popularity of erectile dysfunction medications has continued to soar in the following two decades since Viagra’s launch, as there is now much less stigma attached to the drugs and more knowledge about their benefits.

There is also the fact Viagra lost its patent in 2013 – meaning other drug manufacturers can produce similar treatments that contain sildenafil citrate, Viagra’s active ingredient.

UK Figures from NHS Digital show that an astonishing 2,958,199 prescriptions for Viagra and other erectile dysfunction treatments were given out to men in just 2016 alone.

In comparison, there were only 1,042,431 in 2006 and 2,540,494 in 2015, showing an impressive 16% rise.

Other statistics, published on the UK Health Centre website include:

  • 1 in 10 men in the world are thought to suffer from erectile dysfunction.
  • It is estimated that half of all men who have diabetes suffer from erectile dysfunction.
  • If a man smokes more than 1 packet of cigarettes per day then they have a 50% higher chance of erectile problems than a man who is a non-smoker.
  • Men over the age of 75 have a 77.5% chance of suffering from erectile problems.
  • Men between the ages of 20 and 29 only have a 6.5% chance of having erectile problems.
  • It is thought that erectile dysfunction cause the breakdown of 20% of all relationships.
  • A shocking estimate is that only 33% of men who have erectile dysfunctions seek help and advice about their problems.
  • If you have problems with your erections 20% or less of the time then it is unlikely that you will need treatment.
  • Over 20 million men all over the world have used or are currently using Viagra to treat erectile dysfunction.
  • In 66% of the times that Viagra is taken, men are able to have sexual intercourse.
  • Underlying health issues such as diabetes or heart disease account for 70% of all erectile dysfunction cases.
  • Psychological causes such as stress and anxiety are estimated to cause around 10 % to 20% of all erectile dysfunction cases.
  • It is estimated that in 80% of all cases the causes of erectile problems are down to physical reasons.

As Dr Wyllie commented on, perhaps Viagra’s biggest success was helping men to come forward to speak about their own problems fighting erectile dysfunction, as well as helping to banish some of the stigma and shame attached to what is actually a genuine health problem that cause men severe distress.

Medical Specialists® would like to that remind those men experiencing frequent, longer lasting erectile dysfunction, to speak to their GP. This could be a sign of another underlying health problem, which will need assessing and treating, which could in turn improve erectile function.

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