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Wednesday, 5 May, 1999, 15:46 GMT 16:46 UK
Parkinson's Disease drug 'cures impotence'
Viagra is the first of a wave of new impotence treatments
A new impotence pill developed from a treatment for Parkinson's Disease is proving to be effective in trials, doctors have announced.

Uprima works in a different way to Viagra and is being hailed as part of a second wave of oral medications for impotence.

Viagra, initially developed as a hypertension treatment, increases nitric oxide levels which relax the blood vessels and facilitate blood flow to the penis.

Uprima or apomorphine also affects nitric oxide levels, but works like a neurotransmitter, sending electrical impulses to the brain.

The brain then transmits messages down the spinal cord which ensure blood flow to the penis is increased.

Significant improvements

Doctors told a meeting of the American Urological Association in Dallas that results of trials show Uprima, particularly in higher doses, can significantly increase impotent men's chances of sustaining an erection.

They studied results in nearly 1,500 men with erectile dysfunction.

Some of the men were given fake pills and others were given various doses of Uprima.

One test showed that men given six milligrams of Uprima had a 61% chance of having an erection, compared with a 29% success rate for the dummy pill.

Doctors believe the dummy pill's success could signal that some of the men's erectile problems were due to psychological factors.

The most significant side effect reported was nausea.

By mid-year, TAP Pharmaceuticals, manufacturers of Uprima, hope to apply to the US Food and Drug Administration for approval of the drug.

Parkinson's Disease

Apomorphine has been in existence for some time and was originally injected into patients with Parkinson's Disease - a condition which affects coordination.

But, at the same time as treating Parkinson's symptoms, it was found to cause erections.

Researchers behind the studies say Uprima may eventually be able to be used in combination with Viagra to offer relief to a wider group of patients.

Dr Harin Padma-Nathan, director of the Male Clinic in Beverley Hills, California, said: "It's like a hypertension therapy. We use more than one class of drugs."

Doctors believe the furore around Viagra has caused much interest in new impotence treatments and will soon mean there will be a wide range of easy-to-take options in on offer.

It is estimated that around one in 10 British men suffers from impotence. Many do not seek help.

A spokeswoman for the Impotence Association said the research results look good for Uprima.

"But it depends if the British government will make it available on the NHS."

She added that it might be possible to combine impotence drugs for people with severe medical reasons for erectile dysfunction.

But she said most treatments stated that they should not be used in combination with other impotence drugs.

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