The History of Viagra.
Posted by: Don Amerman in Viagra June 19, 2012 0 22474 Views.
Vasodilation is the key to Viagra’s success.
That year, scientists Robert F. Furchgott, Ferid Murad, and Louis J. Ignarro were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for demonstrating that nitric oxide is responsible for signaling in cardiovascular cells, controlling blood vessel dilation.
It was also the year that Viagra received FDA approval, and Viagra is a drug that makes use of nitric oxide signaling for dilation of the blood vessels responsible for erections.
The introduction of Viagra launched one of the most popular and profitable drugs ever. But the history of Viagra goes back to the mid-1980s.
1985: The Original Concept Behind Viagra.
In 1985, pharmaceutical company Pfizer decided to create a medication to treat heart failure and high blood pressure. Specifically, they wanted a drug that would dilate blood vessels, thus lowering blood pressure and reducing strain on the heart. Their plan was to develop a medication to act on an enzyme in blood vessel walls controlling nitric oxide signaling.
1986-1990: Research and Development.
The second half of the 1980s was devoted to developing hundreds of different molecules for treating the heart disease called angina. One molecule looked particularly promising. That compound was named Sildenafil and is now known by its trade name, Viagra.
1991: The First Clinical Trials.
Healthy volunteers were recruited in 1991 to participate in clinical trials testing the safety of Sildenafil Citrate (Viagra) and determining how the body metabolized it. Clinical trials showed that the medication was safe. The trials also noted a very interesting side effect: the men in the trials reported more frequent erections.
Viagra didn’t do much for angina, but other effects were quite interesting.
1992: More R&D, With a Different Goal.
After the noted side effect from the first clinical trials, Pfizer researchers refocused their research on using Viagra to treat erectile dysfunction (ED) rather than angina. Some research continued into Viagra as an angina treatment, but the medication proved not to be powerful enough to be effective against angina.
1993-1996: Double Blind Placebo Controlled Trials for ED.
In 1993, trials began for Viagra specifically as a treatment for ED. In these trials, neither patients nor doctors knew if patients were taking actual Viagra or a placebo. Over 3,000 patients from age 19 to 87 participated in the trials, and in 21 separate studies, Viagra produced statistically significant results compared to placebos.
1997: Pfizer Applies for Licensing for Viagra.
After trials had shown Viagra to be safe and effective, Pfizer applied for licensing by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Normally licensing takes around a year, but in the case of Viagra, the license was granted in only half a year.
1998: Viagra Hits the Market.
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In the first three months after Viagra was put on the market, almost 3 million prescriptions were written for it. It is interesting to note that in 1990 only one kilogram of Viagra was manufactured. When Viagra was launched in 1998, one kilogram was enough to supply the world with Viagra – for 10 minutes. Today, more than 45 tons of Viagra are consumed every year.
According to a New York Times article , New York University urologist Dr. Jed Kaminetsky had so many requests for prescriptions after Viagra hit the market that he had to start taking patients on weekends in order to keep up with the demand.
When Viagra was first made available, it cost around $10 per pill.
“The cost of Viagra has increased faster than the rate of inflation.” Today chain pharmacies sell Viagra for $23 to $24 per pill.
The FDA notes two patents for Viagra, including one that expired in March 2012 for the active ingredient. The other patent, for patient use of Viagra specifically in treating ED, doesn’t expire until 2019. While manufacturers may try to challenge Pfizer’s patent so that generic versions can be made available, courts were not on the side of those who sought approval of generic Viagra when the original product patent expired in 2012.
1999: Mainstream Advertising of Viagra.
Even though Viagra is a prescription drug, it has always been widely advertised directly to consumers. In 1999, former presidential candidate Bob Dole appeared in a television ad for Viagra. By 2000, Viagra held over 90% of the market worldwide for ED treatment. While that number fell to around 50% by 2007 due to competition from Cialis and Levitra, Pfizer still sells around $1.6 billion worth of Viagra per year worldwide. When sales of competing ED drugs Levitra and Cialis are added in, worldwide sales for ED drugs reach $5 billion per year.
How Viagra Marketing Has Changed.
Rather than being seen strictly as a drug for men who have chronic problems achieving an erection, the role of Viagra has expanded to helping men who would probably be considered to have normal sexual functioning to have “better” erections. In other words, Viagra has made a transition from being a medical treatment for a specific condition into a lifestyle drug, and that has contributed to Viagra’s continued success.
There is no question that Viagra is effective and is safe in the vast majority of users. In fact, in a 2011 Harris Poll of American physicians’ prescribing practices, Viagra and Cialis were named top-rated pharmaceuticals in terms of trust. What’s even more astonishing is that drug categories included in the study included antidepressants, anti-psychotics, and non-insulin diabetes treatments, as well as ED drugs.
Viagra has become one of the best selling lifestyle drugs ever.
Viagra has allowed people to be more open and forthcoming about erectile dysfunction, and many see it as being as significant culturally as the birth control pill was in the 1960s. The internet has contributed to the cultural significance of Viagra by providing services such as online facilitators with physicians contracted who are able to prescribe Viagra to patients who then order it online. This makes the process quick, relatively anonymous, and less expensive than visiting a physician in person and obtaining a prescription.
Perhaps the biggest contribution Viagra has made has been to reassure men of all ages that ED is not the end of the world and that help is available, whether ED is only an occasional problem or whether it is more chronic. Men are far more comfortable with discussing ED and asking for help than they were before Viagra existed.