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Is Viagra the Most Successful Drug In History?

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At one time, Viagra was indeed the fastest growing drug in history. When it was released in March 1998, Viagra had the fastest initial sales growth of any prescription product following its launch.

By the week of April 20, Viagra was the most-covered story on TV network newscasts. Medical commentator Timothy Johnson of ABC’s World News Tonight called it “the biggest development in human sexuality since the birth control pill.”

In May, Time Magazine ran its cover story on “The Potency Pill.” Bob Guccione, published of Penthouse magazine, is quoted as saying he believes Viagra will “free the American male libido.”

In June, Newsweek called Viagra the “hottest new drug in history almost everywhere in the world.”

By July, in response to popular demand, the US government ordered Medicaid coverage of Viagra.

Why Was Viagra So Popular?

For thousands of years, men had sought a remedy for erectile dysfunction.

Around 1600 BC, Egyptians believed that ED could be cured by rubbing mashed crocodile heart on the penis.

In Greece around 300 BC, the Greek philosopher Aristotle created an aphrodisiac by grinding up the dried bodies of beetles.

In the 13th century, the German Dominican Friar Albertus Magnus recommended eating roasted wolf penis.

And throughout history, and around the world, various herbs, plants, and foods have been recommended for the treatment of erectile dysfunction.

Of course, none of these treatments worked. Clinical trials in modern times have verified that the various herbal treatments that are still widely promoted on the Internet have little if any benefit. (Although to the bets of our knowledge researchers have not tried crushed crocodile hearts.)

Viagra became a huge success, almost overnight, because for the first time in history there was actually an ED treatment that worked!

The Treatment Landscape Today

Since the release of Viagra, several other drugs have become available, including Cialis (tadalafil), Levitra (vardenafil), and Standra (avanafil). These drugs all belong to the same class – type 5 phosphodiesterase (PDE5) inhibitors – and operate on the same principle. They are effective for about 2/3 of the men who take them.

For men who don’t respond to PDE5 inhibitors, there are other drugs that are injected directly into the penis. These drugs are effective for over 85% of men.

Newer treatments, such as shockwave therapy, offer the potential for a permanent cure for men with mild-to-moderate vascular erectile dysfunction.

Still, Viagra (sildenafil) represented a historical breakthrough. PDE5 inhibitors are still among the most widely prescribed drugs in the world, for the simple reason that they work!



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