On March 27, 1998, the FDA approved sildenafil (Viagra) for the treatment of erectile dysfunction. This phosphodiesterase 5 (PDE5) inhibitor agent was the first oral substance indicated for the treatment of erectile dysfunction. Via a massive media campaign, an era of public awareness began that dealt with a topic that was only previously discussed behind the closed doors of the bedroom.
The treatment of ED was suddenly mainstream, appearing on the covers of weekly magazines, discussed on televised nationwide broadcast news, and commonly discussed on late night TV. Advertising dollars were poured into making this drug mainstream and included advertising campaigns with sport superstars, identifying the product with major league sports, and TV spots with a former US Senator and presidential candidate. Websites appeared that were laden with sildenafil related jokes.
During its first 6 months on the market, over 5.3 million prescriptions were written for sildenafil, making it at that time one of the most successful drug launches in US pharmaceutical history.
This increased awareness was partly responsible for a change in how physicians approached the topic of sexual dysfunction with their patients. The widespread publicity made ED a fairly easy topic of discussion within the closed doors of physician’s offices. Whereas previously doctors had little to offer to a patient, now a simple solution for many patients existed.
Estimates have been made that within the next 20 years, over 300 million men will be suffering from ED. Naturally other pharmaceutical manufacturers other than Pfizer wanted a piece of the pie. In 2003 two other drugs in the PDE5 inhibitor category were also introduced; vardenafil (Levitra) was introduced by Glaxo/Bayer, and tadalafil (Cialis) by Eli Lilly. In the next blog, I will begin to compare and contrast the different agents in this very competitive erectile dysfunction drug market.
Published On: August 18, 2006