How Viagra Changed The World? The Little Blue Pill

Viagra (sildenafil), often called “the little blue pill,” is one of the well-known prescription drugs in the U.S. market and around the world. Phosphodiesterase 5 (PDE5) inhibitor that causes Erectile Dysfunction (ED) overcomes with Viagra (sildenafil) as the first medicine. ED is a condition that causes a sexual problem for men, and with the increase in age, it is more likely to hike in terms of frequency.

Since the little blue pill marked its license on March 27, 1998, completion in the last year makes 20 years of success. It took a short period to appear on the cover of Time magazine as the “Potency Pill” was launched. And, it was the footballer Pele who traveled worldwide for the promotion of the product.

The sales were about 40 tons annually, while the men worldwide using it have been 66 million. Approximately over 100 million men worldwide and 30 million men in the U.S. alone suffer from ED, respectively. There was mass research in the age group between 40 to 70 years that proves 50 per cent of men who experience some degree of ED in the USA.

The Unexpected Discovery Of Viagra 

Viagra, with Sildenafil Citrate as a significant component of the drug, was not intended to treat ED. The sildenafil compound was initially to treat high blood pressure and chest pain due to heart disease. Pfizer was the manufacturer of this drug for the treatment of hypertension (high BP) and angina pectoris (chest pain) diseases, respectively.

Later the researchers prove the effective results with ED were more than the effects on the primary cause of treatment with heart issues. Furthermore, both these generic and brand forms were permitted to access to the patients with ED as FDA approved drugs in 1998.

FDA-Approval Of The Little Blue Pill: A Financial Boost

As Viagra got its official approval for ED treatment, the end of its decade completion noted massive sales of around $2 billion. Pfizer states that many generic forms of the little blue pill were a great success, including the primary drug. Also, medical advice and prescription became much more accessible since inception to till-date as ED awareness increased via direct-to-consumer (DTC) advertising from the company.

Pfizer Staff’s Views On Viagra: Bloomberg Report

During the start of Viagra as ED pills, Pfizer Inc. put the phrase “erectile dysfunction” in the medical mainstream. Below are few views on Viagra from Pfizer’s staff that the Bloomberg News spoke, and the staff’s comments are edited for clarity.

David Brown (Pfizer chemist): The discovery of the drug was almost failure that the colleagues weren’t attending the meetings. It was tough to take when people react to failure and disappear, which was indeed that close that they felt.

I think it was June 1993. I stood up in front of the clinical development committee—senior management—and, as in previous quarters, got crucified for wasting money. And I got an ultimatum, basically: “Come back in September. If you’ve not got useful data then, we’re closing it.

Days after that, we were doing a study in South Wales on miners. As we got to the end of the survey, a common question arose as always. Is there anything new under anyone’s notice and that you want to report? A man among the group put up his hand and answered, “Well, it seems I have more erections during the night than normal,” and all the others express slight smiles and said, “So did we.” That was the breakthrough.

Ian Osterloh (Pfizer research and development): At the time, no one thought, “This is fantastic, this is great news, we’re really onto something here. We must switch the direction of this program.”

David McGibney (Pfizer R&D): I remember being personally skeptical about this side effect.

Brown: It was literally the day after we got results from the miners in Wales. I said, “I need 150,000 pounds to do an impotence study,” and he [McGibney] said, “no.”

The views extend as people speak..

Brown continues: I closed his door and said, “David, I’m not leaving your office until you give me the money.” If it had been anyone else, I could have been fired on the spot.

Brown got the money, and new trials started in 1993, first in Bristol, U.K., and later in France, Norway, Sweden, and other countries.

McGibney: The study was designed to use soft pornography—or maybe even harder pornography, which wasn’t allowed in the U.K. at that time. You know, before the internet, it was censored stuff. I think the unit had to have a Home Office license to use the images in that study.

Brown: They were fitted with what was called a Rigiscan—you can imagine what that does—and given the drug and shown blue movies. We usually collected the drugs back from them at the end of the week, anything that was unused. But, few of them did not give the medicine again.

Sales started almost immediately after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the drug on March 27, 1998. In less than two months, Viagra was on the cover of Time magazine with this headline: “The Potency Pill.”

John Niblack (Pfizer R&D): There never was an approved pharmaceutical product for this purpose before. It was hard to wrap your head around what this was going to be worth for us. We were uncertain about it, probably through the launch. Who knew?

Steven Lamm (doctor): I think even Pfizer was overwhelming over the media coverage. Usually, a pharmaceutical company would like to control the coverage. They’re cautious but couldn’t control the media. The coverage was overwhelming.

Brown: I guess we should have realized that sex being sex, it was going to be big news, but it got out of control.

Working Of Viagra 

Viagra increases the blood flow to the penis leading to an erection while working in parallel to the sexual stimulation response.

Levels of cGMP (cyclic guanosine monophosphate) increase with the consumption of the little blue pill. The muscles in the penis relax when a man arouses, and thus allows higher blood flow. Therefore an erection is possible with sexual stimulation alongside.

Although Viagra and other PDE5 inhibitors like Levitra, Cialis treat erectile dysfunction (ED), drugs cannot increase a man’s sexual desire. But an indirect form of confidence with a boost in libido can allow achieving desired results with the partner. Also, many such agents for improvement are now available at reasonable prices and in various forms, too.

Other Alternatives For Erectile Dysfunction Treatment

An oral tablet has transformed the way ED works with simple treatment. However, there’s a possibility of PDE5 inhibitors showing poor performance in a few men. Don’t worry, and there are other options available in such cases for ED. Below are the solutions that apply before Viagra was in picture, and are still in use now:

  • Transurethral suppository (MUSE)
  • Penile self-injection (Caverject)
  • Surgical penile prosthesis
  • Vacuum-assisted erection devices

The alternatives may be useful for a few men. But the reality goes the other way as few men feel these procedures painful, complicated, and more expensive. So, get a detailed analysis of what works for you the best after talking with the doctor.

Causes Of ED

Health issues such as high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, drug abuse, high cholesterol, and certain medications are the risk factors for ED. Smoking and drinking may be severe threats at times to cause ED as they may restrict blood flow to veins over time. While normal aging may be a factor, one or group of other issues may contribute to erectile dysfunction. 

Parkinson’s disease, which relates to scar tissue build-up in the penis, is a medical condition that may also cause ED.

Which Medications Cause ED?

Few other medicines directly impact the working of the little blue pill as a part of ED treatment. While a few others may cause partial or severe side effects when combined, patients need to inform the doctor about the complete history of diseases and medicines.

Few medications that may cause erectile dysfunction are:

  • blood pressure drugs
  • antidepressants (commonly the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors)
  • drugs used for benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH)
  • antipsychotics
  • certain antihistamines
  • anti-HIV drugs

The issues with sexual function or ED problems should need quick attention and report to the doctor for evaluation and treatment.

The Impact Of Erectile Dysfunction (ED)

Performance anxiety may be a significant concern for those with ED. This consequence impacts self-esteem, personal relationships, and further leads to clinical depression.

In a medical journal survey by BMJ, self-esteem decline in men was 62 percent, negative effect on a relationship was 29 percent, and break up in relation was 21 percent due to the issue of ED, respectively.

Apart from the issues with ED, many men feel the depression on masculinity when sexual intercourse has a disturbance and while under-performing.