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Wednesday, May 13, 1998 Published at 09:52 GMT 10:52 UK


Pill can 'boost or kill' sex drive

Viagra has been prescribed to 200,000 men in the first four weeks it has been on sale in the US

Doctors in the United States are warning that the new pill used to treat sexual impotence in men could break up marriages rather than giving them a boost.

In their fourth week on the American market, the little blue pills called Viagra have led to the sale of more than 200,000 new prescriptions.

Doctors report that patients grabbing the chance to boost their wilting libidos have rejoiced in second honeymoons.

Spectre of the Viagra widows

But some warn older women may not be able to keep up with the sexual demands of their newly-reinvigorated husbands.

Miami doctor Carlos Nazir said: "I guess we will be using a new term in the future, you know - the Viagra widows.

"This is going to happen to the woman - her husband is on Viagra and she's not keeping up with him with the sexual interest or the sexual frequency."

Reliving youth

Sex experts say Viagra, made by New York drug giant Pfizer Pharmaceuticals, could make a 70-year-old man feel 40 years younger.

The drug works as an enhancer of arousal, getting blood to the penis when a man is sexually stimulated and allowing it to stay there.

The result is an erection in men who have been unable to have one, usually for medical reasons.

Insurers paying for 'lifestyle' drug

Pharmaceutical analysts say Viagra could become one of the top-selling drugs marketed.

However, a number of negative claims are now being made against the Viagra revolution.

Some critics claim American health insurance companies are paying for what they regard as a "lifestyle" drug but not covering other medical conditions.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists says that some insurers are providing Viagra for men yet are refusing to pay for contraception for women.

Experts estimate that 30 million American men suffer from erectile dysfunction.

Viagra has not yet been approved for use by women, but clinical trials are taking place. The drug is expected to go on sale in Europe later this year.

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