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Last Updated: Tuesday, 15 June, 2004, 13:41 GMT 14:41 UK
Inhaler 'may help men have sex'
Couple in bed
Erectile dysfunction is a serious problem for some men
Men who have difficulty getting an erection could soon use an inhaler to help them have better sex.

British scientists are trying to put the active ingredients of an anti-impotence drug into an inhaler.

They believe breathing in the drug, rather than swallowing it, will enable men to get an erection more quickly.

Wiltshire-based Vectura says its product, which at the moment is called VR004, has proved effective in early clinical trials.

The active ingredient in VR004 is apomorphine hydrochloride, which has been available in Europe for the treatment of erectile dysfunction since 2001 as Uprima.

The drug works by activating nerve cells in the brain which are linked to sexual response.

These dopamine receptors help regulate the nerve signals which allow a man to achieve an erection

'Works quickly'

Pharmaceutical company Abbot which produces Uprima says it gets to work within 20 minutes.

However, scientists at Vectura believe they can make the drug work more quickly by getting men to inhale it.

They recently carried out tests on 35 men with mild to moderate erectile dysfunction. They found that the drug helped 59% of these men to get an erection, which compares quite well to other anti-impotence drugs.

Most of these achieved an erection within eight minutes. Three responded within three minutes of inhaling the drug. None reported serious side effects.

The company is now planning to carry out further tests to see if a higher dose could benefit more men.

"We want to see how far we can take the dosage," said Chris Blackwell, chief executive of Vectura. "We are hoping to start that trial later this year."

More than 50m men in Europe and the United States have difficulty getting an erection.

Around $2.5bn is spent on anti-impotence drugs each year and the market is expected to double in size by 2010.

Dr Ian Banks, president of the European Men's Health Forum, welcomed the research.

"This does appear to act very quickly," he told BBC News Online.

"One of the things you need for good sex is spontaneity and anything that enables men to act spontaneously has to be a good thing."

Sex drug could help women
12 Feb 03  |  Health


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