Viagra and its competitors, Levitra and Cialis, are marketed heavily for the treatment of sexual dysfunction, but is there much of a difference between the drugs? NewsCenter 5’s Rhonda Mann reported the little blue pill Viagra started making its pitch about six years ago. Then came the competition.
With the heavy marketing, the three prescription medications for erectile dysfunction raked in $600 million in sales in just the first three months of this year.
“They know men are watching football, golf, car racing on Sunday afternoon, and they do a good job of marketing appropriately,” Mount Auburn Hospital Dr. Paul LaFontaine said.
All three drugs work in the same way, to increase blood flow to the genital area. But there are differences. Viagra and Levitra are effective for up to four hours, and Cialis lasts up to 36 hours.
“You can technically take it late afternoon on Friday night and it can be effective Friday night and Saturday night. The French call it the weekend pill,” Lahey Clinic Dr. Andre Guay said.
But Guay said that’s not a factor for most of his patients. They’re typically older and married. Viagra has the longest safety track record. But sometimes side effects make a difference. While all three can give you headaches and indigestion, Viagra and Levitra tend to have more side effects overall.
“They are not dangerous side effects. That’s why these drugs are so popular,” he said.
The down side is the expense. Some insurers still do not cover the cost of Cialis and Levitra. Viagra, on the other hand, is offering a new discount card - if you fill six prescriptions, you get a seventh free.
In the end, none of the pills may be the right choice. Guay said that sometimes high blood pressure, diabetes or High cholesterol causes sexual problems, and it’s another reason to see your doctor for a complete physical.
Revision date: June 18, 2011
Last revised: by Andrew G. Epstein, M.D.