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Viagra - An Accidental Discovery

How it Started

It all started in 1985, when Pfizer, the largest pharmaceutical manufacturer in the world, developed a treatment for heart disease and hypertension or high blood pressure. Those tests continued until 1991, when scientists Dr Peter Dunn and Dr Albert Wood in England discovered a new drug called compound YUK -92,480 or Sildenafil Citrate, which later became known as Viagra.

Unexpected Results

During those trials, the new medication failed to show improvement for hypertension sufferers, but it did unexpectedly cause an increase in sexual arousal in the male volunteers. They discovered that the compound they were testing could give patients improved and more sustained erections. This was the first a drug had been identified as having not only the ability to improve but also to reverse male erection dysfunction.

Eureka

Pfizer saw the potential of the accidental side effect of Sildenafil Citrate and immediately took the new drug to the US for further research and development. Testing the new compound for treating heart failure was overshadowed by their excitement at having made such a groundbreaking discovery. In 1993, Pfizer began new trials to specifically measure the effectiveness of their new drug as a treatment for ED.

The Rest is History

Those clinical trials involved the participation of 3000 healthy volunteers, aged between 19 and 87, in more than 20 different study groups. Strict measures ensured that neither doctors nor the volunteers new whether they were taking the new compound or a placebo. The trials were a huge success and statistically proved the new drug was safe to use and effective in treating ED. In 1996 Pfizer applied for and received a patent for Viagra in the US but it was not until 1998 that the FDA gave approval for the new medication to be sold as effective treatment for erectile dysfunction.

Sex Sells

In the three months after Viagra was launched on the market, almost 3 million prescriptions were written at a cost of $10 per pill. In that first year, Pfizer reportedly made more than US$1 billion from sales mainly in the US. They then began a TV advertising campaign in the states, which saw the endorsement of Viagra by politicians and sports stars. By 2000, Viagra was one of the most successful drugs in history, having a monopoly of over 90% of ED sales around the world.




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