Potent pillIn late 1990, a research team from multinational pharmaceutical company Pfizer ended clinical trials on sildenafil, an angina drug that was shown to have little effect on the disease it was meant to treat.
Told the trials had been terminated, male patients complained, some even refusing to hand in their leftover medicine.
Probing a little deeper, researchers discovered an unexpected side effect.
Sildenafil wasn’t that effective against angina, but it turned out that it did work against male erectile dysfunction. Sensing the drug could be a blockbuster, Pfizer focused on the side effect of the drug. It eventually came up with Viagra, the first pill to treat erectile dysfunction. The name is a portmanteau of “vigor” and “Niagara.”
The drug was approved for sales by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on March 27, 1998.
Viagra soon became an unprecedented success in the drug market, propelling Pfizer to the heights of the global pharmaceutical industry.
Over the past 10 years, 18 billion pills have been consumed. According to official data, 35 million men around the world have taken the medicine. Six pills are consumed every second.
Viagra is regarded as the drug that completed the sexual revolution of the 20th century.
The first revolution was contraceptive pills which came into the market in the 1950s. Known simply as “The Pill,” it stops women from worrying about pregnancy.
The second revolution was accomplished by Viagra. Amid the many aging societies of the world, the drug drastically improved the lives of elderly citizens.
The British newspaper The Independent called Viagra “the blue miracle” after the color of the pill.
Viagra is also known to have an effect on heart failure, diabetes, memory loss and stroke. Some even say the drug works like aspirin, the universal panacea.
Viagra does have a variety of side effects, such as sneezing, headache, dyspepsia, palpitations, photophobia, priapism, hypotension and heart attack. More serious cases of vision impairment and even death have been reported. Still, few refuse to take the medicine.
As Freud said, humans are sexual animals.
Unique in the animal world, in which species usually get busy only during mating season, humans can have sexual partners at any time of year.
The writer is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.
By Cho Hyun-wook[firstname.lastname@example.org]
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