What you probably didn’t know about Viagra

In the almighty search for a cure for impotence, it seemed like everything had been tried, from tiger penis soup to monkey testicle implants to making a meal out of a goat’s testes.

The inability of the male to attain and maintain an erection for sexual intercourse was once said to be the modern curse of man.

And, in some cases, women were to blame.

In fact, the earliest reference to impotence was found in 8th Century BC in India and the ancient Hindus believed impotence could be caused by having sex with a “distasteful woman”.

The very word impotence is derived from the Latin word “impotencia”, which translates to “lack of power”.

Suggested remedies included eating goat’s testes. Men were advised to add salt, powdered pepper fish and clarified butter to enhance the flavor. Or there was the option of boiling the testes in a pot of milk.

Back in the mid 17th Century, Frenchman Nicholas Vennette’s comments mirrored the view of virtually everybody when it came to the treatment of impotence when he said: “If a woman’s hand, which is the best of all remedies, is not good enough to cure the flabbiness of a man’s penis, the other remedies will do little.”

But researchers eventually discovered the cure for impotency by sheer accident with the creation of Viagra, which changed the lives of countless love lives 23 years ago this month.

How did a drug that was originally meant to treat heart problems end up saving the relationships of millions of satisfied people?

Viagra was one of many drugs that were discovered, like a miracle, quite by accident.

Viagra

In the late 1980s, British Pfizer scientists Peter Dunn and Albert Wood created the drug sildenafil citrate (also known as UK-92480) that they hoped would help treat high blood pressure and angina; the pain linked to coronary heart disease.

Pfizer had been trying without success to develop the drug and there were rumblings among the scientific set that things weren’t going well.

But the scientists kept working on the drug in the hope of a breakthrough.

They eventually got a huge breakthrough — but it wasn’t the one they were expecting.

While testing the drug on a group of miners they discovered an interesting side effect — all the men in the test group agreed they “had more erections during the night than normal”.

That’s when the scientists changed direction and started researching ways the drug could help cure impotency. The men were given the drug and taken to a lab where they were asked to watch porn movies.

You can imagine the rest.

Put simply; the drug worked wonders.

How does it work? It relaxes the muscles allowing more blood to flow into the penis.

According to researcher Ian Osterloh: “With UK-92480′s chances of treating angina now slim, we decided to run pilot studies in patients with erectile dysfunction.”

In April 1996, Pfizer patented sildenafil citrate in the US and, a year later, the drug, now named Viagra, was officially approved to treat erectile dysfunction.

Said to be a drug that would “free the male libido from the emasculating doings of feminists” (according to Penthouse publisher Bob Guccione), Viagra was known as the hottest new drug in the world.

And it’s not the only drug that was discovered entirely by accident.