September 2012 Archives

Bengali Doctors Predict Viagra Public Health Crisis

Thumbnail image for news-icon.jpgDoctors in Bangladesh are taking an unusual position for the medical profession - asking the government to halt production of a medication. The Bengali government recently granted permission to over a dozen drug manufacturers to produce and market sildenafil citrate - but the Bangladesh Medical Association wants to put the brakes on.

They're concerned that the medication will too easily get into the hands of people who shouldn't be taking it - men with heart disease, diabetes, or other conditions that contraindicate prescribing Viagra. Because in Bangladesh, apparently, you don't need to go to a prescribing physician to get medications; you can get pretty much anything over the counter.

If that were the case, I would think they would be more concerned with other drugs with high potential for abuse, like maybe opiates? But I guess they figure there is going to be a huge demand for Viagra once it becomes available, and everyone is going to run out and get it without really thinking about the consequences.

The government granted the licenses to manufacture the drug in response to reports that the number of erectile dysfunction sufferers had increased, so I guess it's not unreasonable to expect that there might be a rush on the drug once it becomes available. Obviously the standards of care are somewhat different than those in other countries, but maybe they could manage with a public education campaign about the potential dangers of using Viagra.

Save a Tiger - Take Viagra

Thumbnail image for news-icon.jpgHere's some good news for an endangered species and wildlife conservationists: the acceptance of Viagra in China as a viable erectile dysfunction treatment is reducing the demand for a traditional ED remedy: tiger penis.

And it's a good thing, too, because there may be as few as 20 tigers in the wild in China, and not all of them have penises.  India, a supplier of the Chinese market, has an estimated tiger population of around 1200, which is dwindling due to poachers.

Chinese health care consumers are starting to recognize that exotic remedies like tiger penis and rhino horn, though they may be time-honored, are prohibitively expensive and are likely not so effective as their Western counterparts.

On the other hand, some fear these remedies' steep price tag could make them something of a status symbol among wealthier patients.

Viagra Alternative Recalled for...Being Viagra

Thumbnail image for news-icon.jpgA so-called natural male enhancement supplement, Actra SX, has been recalled by the FDA for containing active ingredients of Viagra and Levitra.

The product's packaging listed ingredients such as horny goat weed, ginseng, astralagus, bee pollen, and vitamin B-12. All relatively benign and common ingredients for "herbal Viagra" supplements.

Turns out this one had a little extra kick to it - actual pharmaceuticals.

Body Basics, the company that sells the pills, is said to have confirmed the presence of the drugs sildenafil and vardenafil through independent lab testing. So, they didn't know it was in there to begin with? That seems strange, but maybe they were just buying and repackaging sketchy supplements from overseas.

It might not make sense to put Viagra in herbal pills. If you're going to do that, why not just sell Viagra? The reasoning is probably that cutting in a small amount of the active drug might actually make the pills effective, and happy users will come back for more. The pills cost a fortune, so you know they were making bank on them, and they're totally unregulated as drugs.

Well, unregulated until the FDA catches up with you.

Body Basics voluntarily stopped distributing the pills in 2011, but there may be some still out there, and they pose a potential risk to consumers who may think they're taking a "natural" formula with no side effects, when in reality it could cause dangerous drug interactions or medical complications.

As with most things, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

Viagra and Jet Lag: Good News for the Mile-High Club

Thumbnail image for research_icon.jpgA study at an Argentinian university has shown that the active ingredient in Viagra helped mice and hamsters recover from jet lag twice as fast as unmedicated mice.

Apparently Viagra slows down the internal clock by inhibiting the breakdown of something in the bloodstream that helps regulate the body's circadian rhythm. These studies corroborate Viagra users' stories about Viagra speeding their recovery after long flights.

That could have been some consolation for Jeremy Renner, the actor who recently embarrassed himself by mistaking a Viagra tablet for a sleeping pill while on a cross-
Atlantic flight. It's likely he got some unintentional benefits from the mix-up, and recovered more quickly than usual after the trip from the L.A.. to London.

If you're thinking about trying to head off jet lag by popping a blue pill on your next long flight, remember Renner's experience, which involved ice packs and difficulty getting to the restroom. You'll probably want to take the Viagra after you arrive at your destination - at least, if you're a guy. Yes, this is one use of the drug that works for both sexes.

The FDA has not approved Viagra for the treatment of jet lag - and it's doubtful that it ever will, considering its other effects.

Brushing Your Teeth? Keep It Up!

Thumbnail image for research_icon.jpgMany people find tooth flossing a chore, but would you be more likely to brush and floss regularly if you knew it might lessen your chance of getting erectile dysfunction? I know - having fresh breath is always beneficial to your love life, but what could your oral hygiene habits possibly have to do with your sexual functioning?

Well, researchers haven't found a direct link, but studies have found a marked correlation between gum disease and ED. In one study, four out of five men with severe ED had periodontal disease (gum disease); among men with mild ED the rate was less than two in five.

Gum disease is also linked to a number of other health problems, such as diabetes and heart disease. Periodontitis can result in bacteria from the mouth finding their way into the blood stream, causing damage to blood vessels. One theory is that this vascular damage extends to the blood vessels in the penis.

Whatever the connection, there's no real downside to maintaining good oral hygiene and a healthy smile, and it may contribute to your overall health as well.

In the News: A Bad Week for Penises

Thumbnail image for news-icon.jpgPenis enlargement: You're doing it wrong.
Injecting your penis with silicone to make it bigger can have side effects. Like death. Don't try this at home. As Dr. Daniel S. Elliott, a urologist at the Mayo Clinic says, "If there were a legitimate method for penile lengthening, Johnson & Johnson or Pfizer would have bought it up and made billions and billions of dollars worldwide."

I said, just take a little off the tip.

A man who went in for a circumcision procedure is suing the doctor who amputated his entire penis after discovering it was cancerous. Although the procedure may have been necessary, the cancer wasn't immediately life threatening and the patient is arguing that he should have at least had the right to make an informed decision.

Pretty ballsy, hot shot.
An 18-year-old in Florida accidentally shot himself through the penis, testicle and leg while cleaning his gun. Doh! He originally claimed he'd been shot by someone else. His buddy, who was hanging out with him at the time, was arrested for drug charges.

Is Erectile Dysfunction Considered a Pre-existing Condition?

Thumbnail image for faq-icon.jpgIf I have been diagnosed with erectile dysfunction in the past, could this possibly count against me when applying for health insurance?

If current proposed health care reform stays in place, in 2014, this won't matter. But until then, the answer is, it depends.

Mostly it depends on what the insurance company considers a preexisting condition and what they will or will not cover. Also, most insurance companies use a certain formula or logarithm to determine eligibility. They may look at your medical history to see what conditions you have been diagnosed with, what you've been treated for, what medications you've taken, etc.

Compounding this is the fact that erectile dysfunction is usually not a standalone issue, but a symptom of another underlying condition, physical or psychological, like diabetes or clinical depression, and that is more likely to be what the insurance company will be looking at as far as preexisting conditions go.

Some insurance companies won't cover the cost of Viagra or other drugs to treat erectile dysfunction, and if that's the case, then my personal opinion is they shouldn't hold ED against you, since they won't cover its treatment anyway.

Two Countries Battle Counterfeits

Thumbnail image for news-icon.jpgBoth Tunisia and Thailand are attempting to curb the sale of counterfeit Viagra, although they're going about it in different ways.

The Tunisian Central Pharmacy - after 14 years - has finally relented to Pfizer's plan and has authorized the sale of Viagra in the country. Tunisian men suffering from ED now have legal access to the drug. Doctors are happy about the change in policy - they can now offer their patients with ED something more than counseling. The Tunisian government is working with Pfizer - who has been asking for years to enter the country's pharmaceutical market and finally got approval earlier this year.

Thailand, which also has a government-regulated pharmaceutical agency, has gone a different route. They've gotten approval from the FDA to manufacture a generic drug similar to Viagra, called Sidagra. Consumption of unsafe counterfeit Viagra is a problem in Thailand because the brand name drug is very expensive. Men in need - especially older men with limited incomes - resort to much cheaper and questionable black market products. With this new, reasonably priced generic available, hopefully the bottom will fall out of the illegal drug trade and consumers will be safer.

FDA Reversing on Revatio for Kids

Thumbnail image for news-icon.jpgThe FDA has come out with a statement recommending against the use of Revatio (sildenafil) to treat pulmonary arterial hypertension in children under 17. Higher doses at this age, they say, can increase risk of death.

Revatio has been used in many pediatric applications, and it's a bit of a surprise to learn that it never was in fact approved for use in kids, so it's being used off label. In fact, the Revatio label will soon have a warning about use by youth.

Given the benefits of Revatio, it's likely doctors will continue to use it for pediatric treatment without the FDA's blessing.

Heartwarming Update: Toddler Saved by Viagra

Thumbnail image for news-icon.jpgA tiny baby with multiple birth defects, including a hole in her heart, is now a robust, chubby-cheeked toddler thanks to Viagra.

Baby Cerys, born 19 months ago in Wales, came into the world with no spleen, digestive problems, and a serious cardiac defect that required open-heart surgery at just five months of age. Doctors put her on a daily regimen of sildenafil, which is now often used to treat pulmonary hypertension in infants, and in this case helps her blood circulation. She gets a spoonful of liquid Viagra three times a day, along with other medications to manage her conditions.

Cerys took her first steps a couple of months ago, recently spoke her first words, and is now stringing together sentences. Apparently, one of her favorite phrases is "I want to walk." Also, "Talk to your doctor to see if Viagra is right for you," and "If you have an erection that lasts more than 4 hours, seek medical attention."

Cerys' doctors are hoping to wean her off Viagra eventually, but for now she's one of its youngest beneficiaries.