New Options For Some Impotent Men

Drug-maker Pfizer says more than 6 million men have taken its product, Viagra, to conquer erectile dysfunction. And now there may be several more drug options for some impotent men.

Sexual-health experts Laura and Jennifer Berman say the most prominent of the new drugs are basically improved versions of Viagra. They say the drugs will help men become aroused more quickly and for hours longer than Viagra.

Dr. Jennifer Berman, a urologist, says two of the new drugs, Vardenfil and Cialis are very similar to Viagra.

"Both of those are quicker acting, longer lasting," she says. "And medication that work just like Viagra with less side effects, those are actually due out in about 2002."

Berman says Vardenfil may start working in about 20 minutes.

Cialis, a drug being developed by Eli Lilly and Co. and Icos Corp., may be able to give men erections up to 48 hours after they take the drug, Jennifer Berman notes. Thus, this drug could help men drastically improve their sexual spontaneity in relationships. Conversely, when taking Viagra, men have about a four-hour period in which they can achieve an erection after they pop the pill.

Cialis stays in the bloodstream so that the performance may be enhanced not just during the time they take it, but into the next day. However, she says the drug will not interfere with the man's everyday life.

"Now, you wouldn't be walking around with an erection for 48 hours," Jennifer Berman says. "But you will be armed and ready, so to speak, should the duty call."

The most common side effect of these new drugs are headaches. Also, as with Viagra, the Bermans say these drugs may be dangerous for men with heart problems.

Gel Being Developed

Jennifer Berman says there is also a new gel in clinical trials called Topiglan. The drug is already available as an injection but she thinks most men will prefer being able to apply it 15 minutes before they're ready to have sex instead of injecting it.

"This new formation is going to be a topical cream placed to the outside of the penis that will get absorbed into the skin which will increase blood flow and cause an erection," she says. "That will be a much less invasive, more appealing form of delivery of the medication so that's good."

Psychology Still a Factor

Sex therapist Laura Berman says it is also important for men to remember that there may be a psychological component to their sexual problems as well.

"Certainly stress, anxiety, relationship conflict, and performance fears," she says "all contribute to erectile dysfunction and the ineffectiveness of Viagra or any medication, if the man is better suited to therapy."

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