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News2000April › Viagra safety needs greater scrutiny › April 2000

Viagra safety needs greater scrutiny

Experts in pharmacology are warning that the safety of Viagra must be subjected to more scrupulous review

Experts in pharmacology are warning that the safety of Viagra must be subjected to more scrupulous review.

The warning comes from the US, where scientists have criticised the postmarketing surveillance for being less stringent than it should be especially for a product which causes some men to drop dead.

The standard explanation for Viagra deaths is that those men who died were suffering from cardiovascular disease and ignored warnings about the unsuitability of the drug for people with heart problems.

"If you find old guys on Viagra dying from heart attacks, it's hard to know if it's the Viagra or the sexual activity. But that doesn't mean we shouldn't try to find out," says Dr Jerry Avorn, chief of the Division of Pharmacoepidemiology and Pharmacoeconomics at Boston's Brigham and Women's Hospital.

According to Dr John Urquhart, Professor of Bio pharmaceutical Sciences at the University of California, San Francisco, the percentage of men dying after taking Viagra is much higher than that of men who died after using other remedies for erectile dysfunction (ED). For instance, only 1.5-4.5 men per million died using local alprostadil whereas around 49 men per million died while on Viagra.

Scientists believe there is still a great deal of research left to do on Viagra (JAMA, 2000; 283: 590-3).


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