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Viagra

MagazineDecember 2002 (Vol. 13 Issue 9)Viagra

Sex is everything - even if it kills you, it seems

Sex is everything - even if it kills you, it seems.

Take, for example, the inexorable rise of Viagra (sildenafil), the male impotency drug from Pfizer. Despite the fact that 230 deaths were linked with the drug in the first seven months of its launch, and that serious cardiovascular reactions have also been reported, the popularity of the drug has not waned.

So, the new discovery that it can also cause epileptic seizures is unlikely to dent sales.

The adverse reaction was noted by doctors in Israel, a country that is no friend of Viagra as it was one of the first to ban it for wholesale use. Two men, aged 63 and 54, both suffered seizures within hours of taking the drug and, as both were healthy with no history of seizure, it's fair to assume that Viagra was responsible.

Epileptic seizures had been noted during the early clinical trials for the drug, but it was impossible to make a firm association at the time - but now we can (BMJ, 2002; 325: 869).

Viagra soon became the stuff of urban myth, and there's a black market for it as a recreational drug.

It has also earned Pfizer heaps of money. In just one week, a record 113,000 prescriptions were written out for it in America - compared with an average of 3000 or so for any common-or-garden wonder drug.

No wonder the drug has earned the nickname of 'Pfizer Riser'.

Aside from death, other reactions include flushing, dyspepsia, visual disturbances and headache.

So, just as you're able to perform for the first time in ages, you're forced to call it off, and you have to blame it on one of the oldest excuses in the book (N Engl J Med, 1998; 338: 1397-404).


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