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Study: Viagra doesn't work for every impotent man

Viagra
Doctors worry that men will become depressed if Viagra doesn't work for them  
May 13, 1998
Web posted at: 10:45 p.m. EDT (0245 GMT)

(CNN) -- Men have seen the success stories on television. They have heard former presidential candidate Bob Dole say he tried it. But, one month after the drug hit the market, doctors say some men are dealing with Viagra failure.

"Their hopes have been so high that when you get a patient and it doesn't work, they are depressed. They feel devastated," urologist Dr. Steven Morganstern said.

Viagra fails to work for three out of 10 men, according to Pfizer, the company that makes the drug. And, even when it does work, it does not always make impotent men feel and function completely normal.

In this week's New England Journal of Medicine, an editorial points out that "the strength and maintenance of erections" of men on Viagra were not as good as men who were not impotent.

"While it is very effective, it doesn't quite restore normality, at least in many men," said Dr. Robert Utiger, who wrote the editorial.

However, researchers also report that the little blue pill improved sexual satisfaction and enhanced orgasms with few side effects for many men.

In a study involving more than 800 men at 37 research centers around the country, participants took either differing doses of the drug or a placebo pill.

"In the first four weeks of our study, nearly 70 percent of all attempts at sexual intercourse were successful for the men receiving sildenafil (Viagra), whereas only 22 percent of the men receiving placebo were successful," said the study's lead author, Dr. Irwin Goldstein, professor of surgery at Boston University School of Medicine.

About 6 percent to 18 percent of the men had headaches, flushes and abdominal discomfort from the drug, but more than 90 percent completed the tests.

Since Viagra was approved in late March, more than 627,000 prescriptions for the drug have been filled.

Doctors say that when Viagra fails, there are other treatments that can work, such as penile injection therapy and penile implants.

"We just published a paper on close to a thousand patients who had the implants, and it's a wonderful treatment," Morganstern said.(icon 153 K / 13 sec. AIFF or WAV sound)

Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and Reuters contributed to this report.

 
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