THE RISE AND RISE OF VIAGRA
1989 Pharmaceutical company Pfizer cooks up a compound called sildenafil citrate which it hopes will treat high blood pressure. MARCH 1998 The drug – now branded Viagra – is approved in the US as the first pharmaceutical product ever for erectile dysfunction. It quickly becomes one of the fastest-selling drugs of all time, with 10,000 prescriptions being issued a day. SEPTEMBER 1998 Viagra gets its European licence. From July 1999, Viagra was prescribed via the general medical services scheme to men with underlying conditions such as Parkinson’s disease or prostate cancer – but it is more widely available by private prescription or from foreign suppliers on the internet. APRIL 2004 Britain’s first ‘Viagra divorce’ is granted when a middle-aged woman claims the drug made her husband ‘sexually aggressive’. 1993 When it is trialled in Wales, one tester mentions that he got more erections while on it. The others say, ‘So did we!’ It’s a breakthrough moment. JULY 1999 In Sex and the City, man-eater Samantha dates a wealthy older man who pops the blue pills (right). Viagra later stars in Ally McBeal and Law & Order.
JANUARY 2010 Michael Douglas says he’s glad his wife likes older men and praises the drug: ‘Some wonderful enhancements have happened in the last few years – Viagra, Cialis – that can make us all feel younger.’ It also gets its own movie: Love & Other Drugs with Jake Gyllenhaal playing a Viagra salesman.
DECEMBER 2017 Locals in Ringaskiddy claim ‘love fumes’ from the Pfizer plant have an arousing effect on local men, thought the firm dismisses it as a myth.
2007 A University of Wisconsin study says drugs such as Viagra boost levels of a hormone linked with feelings of love.
JUNE 2013 Viagra’s European patent expires, so with the unbranded drug sildenafil available at a 93 per cent price drop, the HSE allows prescriptions for a wider range of cases of male impotence.
2017 Worldwide more than 37 million men have been prescribed Viagra in more than 120 countries.
SEPTEMBER 2018 Online health company Zava admits to stockpiling one million Viagra pills in case Brexit disrupts medical supplies.