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While drug makers aggressively market drugs designed to treat erectile dysfunction (ED), two new studies suggest that men may have a hard choice, since the most effective drug, Viagra, is also the one that carries the most potentially harmful side effects.
In a report published in the medical journal European Urology on March 26, Swiss researchers looked at dozens of clinical trials involving erectile dysfunction drugs, including Viagra, Cialis, Levitra, Zydena and Stendra. The findings suggest that effectiveness sometimes comes at a trade off, requiring an increased risk of adverse side effects.
All of the drugs belong to a class of medications known as phosphodiesterase 5 inhibitors (PDE5Is), which recent studies suggest could work against the body’s natural defenses against invasive cancers, particularly melanoma, a deadly form of skin cancer.
Researchers looked at data from more than 150 clinical trials on ED drug efficacy and adverse effects. They found that Viagra had the highest rate of adverse events, but that it appeared to have the greatest effectiveness. In comparison, Cialis had moderate effectiveness but the lowest rate of adverse events. Zydena rated about the same effectiveness as Cialis, but carried a higher risk of adverse events. Levitra and Stendra rated the worst of the ED drugs, having the worst effectiveness, but with the same adverse event risks as Viagra.
In another study published this week in the International Journal of Impotence Research, researchers from the University of Manchester in the U.K. looked at data on 2,600 men ages 50 to 87. While 80% of the men who took ED drugs said they improved their sex lives, the researchers found that men taking PDE5Is were still not finding their sex lives as satisfying as men without ED, or still expressed concerns over their sex life even once prescribed the drugs.
Researchers say their findings show that these drugs should not be considered a “cure all” for ED and sexual dysfunction.
“Opportunities are clearly being missed to improve treatment outcomes, with our nationally-representative data showing that gains relating to sexual activity and function are not mirrored by lower levels of concern and dissatisfaction with sexual health and relationships,” said lead study author Dr. David Lee, in a University of Manchester press release. “It is important that health professionals act on this and offer a more rounded approach to managing ED.”
Viagra Melanoma Concerns
Viagra (sildenafil citrate) is one of the most widely recognized brand name medications on the market. Introduced by Pfizer in 1998, the medication has been aggressively marketed in direct-to-consumer advertisements, leading to millions of men receiving the drug for treatment of impotence and sexual dysfunction, including the inability to develop or maintain an erection.
While it is generally believed among consumers that Viagra is safe, several studies have suggested users may face serious risks from side effects of Viagra, including a potential impact on the body’s to resist the spread of melanoma, a serious and potentially fatal form of skin cancer.
In a study published last year in the medical journal JAMA Internal Medicine, researchers from Harvard Medical School found that men who took Viagra were 84% more likely to be diagnosed with melanoma than men who do not use the drug.
The American Cancer Society indicates that melanoma is diagnosed in about 69,000 Americans each year and causes about 8,650 deaths annually. The skin cancer usually manifests as unusual moles or patches of skin. While it is often curable if caught early, once melanoma has spread beyond the skin and local lymph nodes, treatment is difficult and it may ultimately result in death.
A growing number of Viagra melanoma lawsuits are being filed by men nationwide. As Viagra lawyers continue to review additional claims for men throughout the United States diagnosed with melanoma, it is ultimately expected that several hundred may be filed by men throughout the U.S.