Thursday, March 27, 2008
Yes, Viagra has been around for ten years. For some reason, perhaps all the spam e-mail I continue to receive, it seems like it has been around for so much longer. The Wall Street Journal's Health Blog has a post to mark this special occasion but notes, as is fitting a financial newspaper that the drug hasn't lived up to what some thought was its profit potential. Jacob Goldstein writes,
Ten years ago today, the FDA approved Viagra. The drug became an instant cultural icon, and sales took off immediately, prompting some optimistic analysts to predict that annual sales could reach $20 billion some day, the WSJ reported at the time.
Viagra turned into a world-famous brand, a legend that shifted the notion of what the pharmaceutical industry can do and defined a new category of lifestyle medicines. But sales of the Viagra, though solid, haven’t lived up to the early hype — under $2 billion a year world-wide for the last several years, less than sales of humbler Pfizer drugs like the painkiller Celebrex, not to mention Lipitor.
Why the chasm between the idea of Viagra, a global megabrand, and the sales figures for the pills themselves? Part of it is that Viagra now has competitors, Levitra (from Bayer, GlaxoSmithKline and Schering-Plough) and Cialis (from Lilly). But even collectively, the sales of the drugs never came close to the early predictions. Abraham Morgentaler, a Harvard urologist who wrote a book called The Viagra Myth, suggests that no pill could ever live up to Viagra’s hype. . . . .
“Relationships are complicated, sex is complicated, and sometimes when there are issues in the relationship, the bedroom is the place where the most obvious failures are,” he says. “But being able to have a hard penis isn’t necessarily going to solve the relationship problem.”
Many of his patients realized that only after trying the drug. Apparently, other patients realized it too — about half of patients nationwide who have gotten Viagra prescriptions have never gone back for a refill, Morgentaler says. In some cases, he suggests, nature may be best left to its own devices. . . .
They also post their favorite Viagra ad.