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Viagra: the blue pill that revolutionized sex turns 20

Today, just two decades ago, a small blue pill shaped like a diamond achieved the green light for the US market, unleashing a revolution in modern popular culture. Viagra made it possible for millions of impotent adult men to have an active sex life. But in addition, he broke taboos even in Puritan societies such as the United States, by getting the problem of erection to be publicly discussed. In Europe it started to be sold six months later. Since its release to the market, it is estimated that 65 million patients worldwide have been prescribed. The success even surpassed its owner, the pharmaceutical Pfizer.

However, 20 years later and with several competitors in the market, the business is no longer what it used to be.

A pharmaceutical product as unusual as Viagra has also had an unusual advertising campaign at its launch. Football legend Pele and Republican candidate for US presidential election Bob Dole served as global ambassadors for the drug, with television ads. “It’s a little embarrassing to talk about erectile dysfunction,” said the politician and war veteran in the first televised ad presenting Viagra to the masses, trying to overcome their fears, “but it is important for millions of men and their partners.”

In advertising he explained that when he was diagnosed with prostate cancer, he was afraid to think that the operation and the treatment he had to undergo could generate impotence. “Courage,” he said, “something that shares an infinite number of Americans” who battle serious diseases. “Do not suffer more in silence”, added a few years later the one starring Pele, “talk to your doctor, I will do it”.

Viagra sales were around 2,100 million in 2012. Last year they were 1,200 million, almost half

This impotence drug, which began selling after obtaining all the permits from the United States on March 27, 1998, was discovered by chance by a team of researchers at Pfizer dedicated to the development of a treatment to calm the chest pain caused by the angina pectoris. When doing tests with volunteers, they found that the blood vessels of the penis were dilated and the increase in circulation caused its erection as a side effect.

Billing above expectations

The blue pill received the approval of the drug agency quickly became one of the sacred cows of the pharmaceutical. Impotence affects a third of men over 40 years old. The alternatives that were at that time in the market were not very practical nor fully effective. Revenues soared at the rate that the planetary interest grew.

In the first two weeks that it was for sale, the doctors issued more than 150,000 prescriptions in the United States. The pill arrived in Europe six months later. That parenthesis caused, in full global frenzy, that the black market was the Viagra at a price five times higher than that paid for each pill at the counter of any American pharmacy.

Neither Pfizer itself anticipated a similar phenomenon. Of the $ 100 million in revenue expected by the pharmaceutical company in the first year, it went on to surpass the 1,000 million in question for a few more months. It is estimated that in the course of these 20 years since the beginning of its marketing more than 65 million prescriptions were issued worldwide for legal consumption.

The impact of Viagra on impotence is compared to the change that antibiotics meant to fight infections or treatments that reduce blood cholesterol. But above all it was also the perfect treatment to announce its merits to consumers, because it is a medicine that is directed directly to the lifestyle of patients.

The initial success of Viagra was also possible thanks to the Internet. The two phenomena grew, in fact, in parallel to the use of the network of networks while online pornography exploded in the portals. The woman, however, was on the sidelines of the advertising campaigns until three years ago, when Pfizer put them talking directly to the camera to ask the men to go to the doctor.





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