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history of ViagraViagra made its revolutionary entrance in 1998, the same year when the role of nitric oxide in vasodilation was better understood by researchers. The drug’s approval and launch into the market had paved a new path in the pharmaceutical industry. Prior to the introduction of Viagra, there were treatments available for erectile dysfunction (ED) like surgery, pumps, injections and such. However, it was Viagra that opened up a world of possibilities when it came to treating ED. The history of Viagra dates to way before 1998 though, and here we take a brief dive into the evolution of Viagra.

The Idea behind Viagra

The concept of Viagra starts way back in 1985 when the researchers at Pfizer were looking for a drug that could help treat high blood pressure and heart failure. Ideally, the drug should be able to dilate the blood vessels so that the blood pressure could be lowered and the strain on the heart is reduced. The researchers had the plan of developing a drug that would act on the enzyme in blood vessels that control nitric oxide effects on the system. Continued research led to developing the molecule Sildenafil, which later became known by the trade name Viagra.

Research and development that helped propel Viagra

Early clinical trials were conducted in 1991 in order to establish the drug’s safety and efficacy. Male respondents in this trial were seeing an unusual side effect – frequent erections. From 1992 two simultaneous studies were conducted on Sildenafil, one for ED treatment and the other for angina.

Between 1993 and 1996, 21 separate double blind placebo controlled studies were conducted on Viagra for ED. The results were extremely promising and much better than the placebo. 1997 was when Pfizer submitted its new drug application (NDA) with the FDA for Viagra’s use in treating ED.

Viagra’s FDA approval and launch

Viagra received FDA approval in just six months, a process that usually takes at least a year. The drug was introduced in 1998, with about three million prescriptions written in the first year. Viagra’s initial supply was just a small number of kilos per day that was sufficient to supply the entire world. Currently, more than 45 tons of Viagra are consumed every year, and this number keeps rapidly increasing.

Cost of Viagra

The prescription drug Viagra was first available for about $10 per pill. The drug’s success and rapid growth in markets worldwide resulted in the price hiking faster as well. Soon Viagra was selling for about $25 per pill. Currently, one can expect to pay at least $50 to $60 for a single pill. The price of Viagra is considered to have risen faster than the rate of inflation.

Viagra’s patent information

Pfizer had two patents for Viagra with the FDA. The patent for Sildenafil expired in 2012 and generic manufacturers can use the drug for non-ED conditions. However, the patent for the use of Viagra specifically for ED expires only in 2019.

Viagra’s advertising methods and entry of competitors

Although Viagra is used only with a prescription, the drug was aggressively marketed to a number of people. The brand quickly became synonymous ED treatment. The myth that the drug can boost sexual performance added to the demand for this drug. The launch of Cialis and Levitra in early 2000, both of which had similar properties as Viagra but with minor differences, increased the popularity of ED medications. Viagra is still considered as one of the most trusted drugs by consumers, despite greater competition.

What did Viagra’s launch really help to change?

Viagra opened many doors when it was made available. This is an important drug because it helped it helped many persons to becoming more open to discussing ED problems and seeking treatment. The gradual development of online facilitators made this drug all the more accessible. Viagra has helped tremendously in overcoming the taboo of ED, similar to the launch of birth control pills in 1960s.

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