Twenty-five years ago, if a patient had erectile dysfunction, they had to live with it.

There were no effective medical treatments on the market to help and patients had to rely on lifestyle changes to turn the problem around. In fact, impotence and erectile dysfunction were long seen as psychological problems rather than physiological ones. This all changed during the 90s, studies were being conducted around the world proving erectile dysfunction to be treatable, creating the perfect storm for Viagra.

Seen as a saviour for men suffering from erectile dysfunction, Viagra is now a part of popular culture and is a household name around the world.

Viagra: A History

In 1989, two Pfizer scientists, Peter Dunn and Albert Wood, created a drug to treat high blood pressure and angina. As Pfizer completed medical trials to test the new drug, doubts were cast over its ability to treat heart disease. Patients were reporting increased erections days after taking the drugs. Incidentally, around the same time, studies were being done into the science behind erections and sexual stimulation, which allowed the Pfizer scientists to understand the side-effects of the drug.

In 1996, Pfizer created the patent for Viagra in the United States, which lead to the FDA approving it for use as a treatment for erectile dysfunction in 1998. It got worldwide media coverage and was hailed as a wonder-drug. Over the next few years Viagra found its place in pop culture, being a hot-topic on talk-shows, the inspiration for an episode of Sex And The City, and even being endorsed by presidential candidate Bob Dole.

Viagra Monopoly Coming To An End

In 2010, Teva Pharmaceuticals was sued by Pfizer over their plans to launch a copycat version of the Viagra drug. Pfizer still held the patent to Viagra until 2020, so they were protecting their sales by stopping any other companies creating a similar drug. However, in 2013, the two companies finally settled in court to allow Teva to sell a generic version of the drug from 2017, whilst paying Pfizer an undisclosed royalty. This has opened the floodgates for more copycat versions with different branding.

Pfizer enjoyed the market share on erectile dysfunction drugs for 20 years, but that came to an end in 2013. Since then Pfizer’s share has dropped dramatically.

Erectile Dysfunction Industry By Numbers

In 2014, the global erectile dysfunction medication market was valued at over £3.2 billion. That number has continually grown for a few reasons: a growing elderly population, increased awareness of erectile dysfunction drugs and economic development.

Competitors

Viagra is still seen as the most effective treatment for erectile dysfunction. Although, like a lot of medications, results vary from user to user. Patients need to speak to their doctor in order to find the most suitable treatment for their condition. Here are a few of the main competitors.

Levitra – Bayer Pharmaceuticals’ answer to Viagra, this drug gets to work faster than Viagra and requires a smaller dose. It has also been noted to have less powerful side-effects, which is a big plus for users. Viagra, and its competitors, have long been known to cause headaches, stuffy nose, upset stomach, altered vision and flushing. Launched in 2003, it is one of Viagra’s main competitors.

Cialis – Cialis is a erectile dysfunction medication from Eli Lilly & Co. It works in a similar way to Viagra and can cause the same side-effects, but Cialis has one big advantage – it can last from 24-36 hours. Unlike Viagra, which typically lasts for around 4-5 hours, Cialis is known as the ‘weekend pill’. All of these drugs work in similar ways, but react with patients differently. It is a matter of testing to see which works best for the patient in question. You can buy cialis tablets from most pharmacies and chemists.

Eroxon – Created by small British company, Futura Medical, this erectile dysfunction treatment comes in the form of a gel. The company has been developing the treatment for over 15 years and finally released it in 2016, after impressive double blind test results. In similar circumstances to Viagra’s invention, Eroxon comes from a drug used to treat Angina, which dilates blood vessels.

Staxyn – Unlike other erectile dysfunction treatments, Staxyn is taken by dissolving a tablet on your tongue instead of swallowing with water. Its results and side-effects are pretty much the same as Viagra and Cialis.

You shouldn’t crush or split the tablet. It can be taken with or without meals, but not with liquids. The tablets contain 10 mg of medication that shouldn’t be taken more than once a day.