Viagra Essay

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Sildenafil citrate,  better  known  by its brand  name Viagra, became available to the public in 1998. Developed   in  1989   in  Sandwich,   Kent,  in  the United Kingdom, for Pfizer Pharmaceuticals, Incorporated  by   Dr.   Andrew   Bell,  Dr.   David Brown, and Dr. Nicholas  Terrett,  sildenafil citrate was originally  intended  as a treatment for hypertension, or high blood pressure, and angina pectoris,  a  form   of  ischemic  cardiovascular  disease. After medical trials indicated  that sildenafil citrate did  not   show   promise   as  a  heart   medication, research  was  halted  in 1992.  Dr. Terrett,  considered by some as the father  of Viagra, was named in the original  1991  British drug patent.

Soon,   researchers   discovered   that   sildenafil citrate,  despite  its lack of promise  in the world  of cardiac  medicine,  showed  an unusual  capacity  to increase blood flow to the penis area. This capacity allowed   previously  impotent men  the  ability  to reverse their  condition. According  to  experts,  the mechanism  through which  the  drug  worked  was by enhancing  the relaxing  effects of nitric oxide, a chemical normally  released  through sexual stimulation,  on  smooth  muscle. The  resulting  relaxing effects allowed increased blood flow into the penis, leading to enhanced  erection.

Because of the unexpected effects on sexual performance,  Pfizer Pharmaceuticals opted  to market the drug as a treatment for impotence, dropping its research on cardiac trials. Patented  in 1996, Viagra was found to be the first highly effective, nonsurgical treatment of erectile dysfunction. It was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 1998. The distinctive blue diamond shape of the pill has become a cultural  icon.

Despite  its success in treating  erectile  dysfunction, Viagra does have its share of side effects. The most   common   side   effects   include   headache, flushing  of the face, sneezing, dyspepsia,  and prolonged erections. Less common side effects can include heart  palpitations, blurred  vision, and increased  light sensitivity. There have been reports by patients  of sudden decreased or loss of vision in one  or  both   eyes,  while   others   have   reported instances of cyanopsia, or vision tinted in shades of blue. Finally, in rare cases, there have been instances of heart  attack,  irregular  heartbeat, and  death  in patients  taking Viagra.

In addition to  erectile  dysfunction, Viagra  has been  shown  to  be  effective  in  the  treatment of pulmonary arterial  hypertension, a disease characterized  by abnormally high blood  pressure  in the arteries of the lungs. The constriction of the pulmonary blood  vessels  created  by  the  arterial hypertension forces  the  heart  to  beat  faster  and work harder, causing the blood pressure within the lungs to increase. Viagra acts by relaxing  the arterial walls, resulting in a diminishing of arterial resistance and pressure, thereby decreasing pulmonary  blood  pressure.  Viagra  was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for use in the treatment of pulmonary hypertension in 2005. However,  to avoid confusion  with the brand  name Viagra, for the treatment of pulmonary hypertension the trade  name of sildenafil citrate  is Revatio. The shape of the pill is round  and its color is white to avoid further  confusion.

Viagra has also been shown to be effective in the treatment of Raynaud’s  disease, also known  as Raynaud’s  phenomenon, a condition causing some areas of the body, namely, the fingers, the toes, and the  tips  of  the  ears,  to  feel  numb  and  cool  in response to cold temperatures or stress. In medical trials using sildenafil citrate to treat Raynaud’s disease, patients  experienced  a significantly  lower frequency of attacks  than  those not prescribed  the drug. However, arterial blood pressure was also reported to  increase  in  patients   taking  sildenafil citrate.  In some studies,  blood  flow  velocity quadrupled  in patients  taking  sildenafil citrate.

Viagra has become something  of a recreational drug of choice for many young people. Some erroneously  believe   that   Viagra   will   increase libido,  improve  sexual  performance, or  increase penis  size. According   to  some  doctors,   healthy men are using Viagra not to get an erection but to achieve an erection of longer duration. Many men shop  for doctors  willing to provide  prescriptions for  the  drug,  while  others   make  use  of  online pharmacies,  where  few  questions   regarding   the need for it are asked.

One  of  the  most  serious  issues  pertaining to online  pharmacies and Viagra  is the concern  that the  drug  might  be  fake,  contaminated, expired, ineffective,  or  unsafe  for  the  individual  taking  it. Real  possibilities  for  damage  to  one’s health  can result  from  misusing  or  abusing  a  drug  such  as Viagra, which is intended  as a treatment for erectile dysfunction. Men who take Viagra for extended periods  or simply to achieve longer erections  may develop   erectile  dysfunction  if  the  drug   is  not taken.  Those  taking  medications for  high  blood pressure  or those who have a history  of heart  disease, low  blood  pressure,  or  exercise  intolerance can   develop   severe  cardiovascular  problems   if drugs such as Viagra are misused or abused. Viagra abuse has been associated  with increases in unsafe sex practices among gay men, sexually transmitted diseases, and fatalities  because of its use in combination   with  ketamine   and  amyl  nitrite   by  club goers.  Recreational use  of  Viagra  has  also  been associated with substance  abuse and a higher number of sex partners.

Pfizer’s 1998 second-quarter earnings report indicated  a 38-percent  increase in profits,  totaling $628  million.  Average  profits  from  Viagra  since 2000  have been more than  $1.8 billion annually.

There are currently  more than  two dozen drugs available  to  treat  inadequate male  sexual  performance  but  none  for  similar  problems  in women. Recently, Sprout Pharmaceuticals has developed flibanserin  as the female equivalent  of Viagra. The Food and Drug Administration has rejected flibanserin twice, prompting accusations of gender  bias amid  claims  that   male  performance drugs  were approved.

Controversy  has   also   surrounded  Viagra   as many health insurers allow full financial reimbursement for patients  taking  it but  fail to allow coverage for many contraceptive drugs.

Bibliography:

  1. Bonnard, The Viagra Alternative:  The Complete Guide  to Overcoming Erectile Dysfunction Naturally. Rochester, VT: Healing Arts Press, 1999.
  2. Grossman, Larry and Eric B. Katzenstein. Viagra (Sildenafil Citrate): The Remarkable Story of the Discovery  and Launch.  Los Angeles: Medical Information Press, 2001.
  3. Li, Jie Jack. Laughing Gas, Viagra, and Lipitor: The Human Stories Behind  the Drugs We Use. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006.
  4. Loe, Meika. The Rise of Viagra: How  the Little  Blue Pill Changed  Sex in America.  New York: New York University Press, 2006.
  5. Mortgentaler, Abraham. The Viagra Myth: The Surprising Impact on Love  and Relationships. San Francisco,  CA: Jossey-Bass, 2003.
  6. Reidy, Jamie. Hard Sell: The Evolution of a Viagra Salesman. Riverside, NJ: Andrews McMeel Publishing, 2005.
  7. Salisbury, Brett. Female Viagra: The Pink Pill Is Finally Here (Paperback). Colorado Springs, CO: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform.

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