The History of Viagra and Its Mind-Boggling Lessons

Toni Koraza

Yes, we're totally talking about the little blue helper.

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The History of Viagra

Viagra started off as a failed blood pressure medication.

It was the year 1989. The scientist at Pfizer started working on a cure for high blood pressure and chest pain. It was supposed to remedy the pain associated with coronary heart disease. After years of trial and error, they came up with Sildenafil. Sildenafil is the active substance of the most famous pill on the planet.

The first years of research were rocky and full of uncertainty.

Viagra was supposed to decrease blood pressure.

Pfizer spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to find the cure for the human heart.

And nothing helped. The drug didn’t perform.

In June 1993, after 4 years of struggle, David Brown  -- Pfizer Chemist in charge-- received an ultimatum from the clinical development committee. He had only months to produce positive results, or he’d lose the job and smear his career.

It was so close to failure that people weren’t coming to the meetings.” David Brown recals. “I mean, you know how people sort of smell failure and disappear? It was that close.”

He pivoted to his most significant victory and changed the course of history.

Viagra became the drug superstar of the nineties, and Pfizer made tens of billions in revenue while changing the political and social landscape.

Impotence

Impotence is a condition in men of not being able to perform sexually. It’s also labeled as erectile dysfunction.

There is a concerning number of men that have sporadic erectile dysfunction. The new study pegs that number to 1 in 4 men. And as a part of the group, I relate to these numbers.

“The study, published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine, shows that one in four men at an outpatient clinic who sought help for erectile dysfunction (a condition where a man has a problem having or maintaining an erection) was actually under the age of 40. Plus, nearly half of those men under age 40–48.8 percent of them — had a severe case of the sexual condition, compared with 40 percent of men older than age 40.”

While impotence was probably always a problem, it’s likely the social stigma prevented men from seeking help.

Viagra

Viagra became a drug superstar of the nineties by generating billions in revenue.

FDA approved the drug on March 27, 1998, and it instantly became a cultural phenomenon.

People couldn’t get enough of it.

Bob Doyle, the former Senate majority leader and a presidential candidate, starred in one of the most notable Viagra commercials.

“You know, it’s a little embarrassing to talk about ED,” Dole said. “But it’s important to millions of men and their partners.”

Viagra was not just a drug superstar. It also started the embarrassing discussion around erectile dysfunction.

Turning Tables

How did a failed blood pressure medication become a social driving force behind a stigma-cutting billion-dollar business?

Scientists realized the original plan was dead in waters, but they still hoped to turn this thing around. They discovered one of the side effects during human trials. The breakthrough happened when one of the men reported an increased number of rock-hard erections.

At first, everyone laughed, then it hit. David Brown had one of the most profitable epiphanies in medical history. He realized the potential implications of the side-effect. And advised Pfizer to create the cure for impotence.

Viagra hit the runaway with one of the fastest prescription uptakes in the history of medicine. Pfizer made tens of billions of dollars in revenue since its debut.

The little blue pill went on to change the world. And men behind Viagra became one of the most successful scientists in modern times.

Pivot in business, life, and politics

The art of turn is more of an art than science. It comes from the ability to make use of side-effects.

Success is a matter of perspective.

Hitting the jackpot often requires looking at things from a different angle. There is a chance you’re sitting on acres of diamonds while searching for one tiny precious rock. Think outside the box. You might have to tweak your goals to succeed.

It’s essential to discover wealth in your failure. David Brown realized how to change the world with an embarrassing side-effect of a failed drug.

Life-changing opportunities surround you. The only thing standing in your way is that you don’t see it yet.

Photo by Charles Deluvio on Unsplash

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Curious Fellow | Founder at Mad Company, and MadX.Digital | Writes about Current Events, Lifestyle, and Money |

Miami, FL
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