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The Importance Of Not Being Impotent: Happy Birthday Viagra!

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Photo by Felixe via Flickr
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A true upstart, on this day in 1998, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the drug Viagra, an oral medication that treats impotence, recalls History.com. Putting the fun in erectile dysfunction, Sildenafil, the chemical name for Viagra, was originally created to treat high blood pressure and angina. Insert joke here.

Pfizer found, however:

."..that while the drug had little effect on angina, it could induce penile erections. The reaction took about an hour, a little longer if the pill was taken after eating fatty foods. Seeing the economic opportunity in such a biochemical effect, Pfizer decided to market the drug for impotence. Sildenafil was patented in 1996, and a mere two years later--a stunningly short time compared to other drugs--it was approved by the FDA for use in treating "erectile dysfunction," the new clinical name for impotence. Though unconfirmed, it is believed the drug was invented by Peter Dunn and Albert Wood."

In the first year on the market, the $8-$10 pills reportedly brought in about a billion dollars in sales, and though available by prescription only, Viagra was marketed direct-to-consumer via high profile tv ads, a fairly uncommon practice at the time.

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To date, over 20 million Americans have tried Viagra, notes History.com, despite unclear data on long-term heath effects.