Friday, May 27, 2005

Hairy Palms?

The New York Times reports that:

The Food and Drug Administration said today that it had asked Pfizer Inc., the world's largest drug maker, to amend its warnings on Viagra in response to scattered reports of vision loss by people taking the drug.

What is more important, vision or working equipment? If an individual has problems performing then I can understand the reasons for choosing to take Viagra. But it seems that most people take it for recreational purposes, to enhance their performance above and beyond the normal. They are searching for that elusive four hour erection! The usual drugs used to treat Erectile Dysfunction are Sildenafil (Viagra), Tadalafil (Cialis) and Vardenafil (Levitra). But there are may physical and emotional drawbacks to the use of some of these drugs

From a study published in the current edition of the American Journal of Medicine titled Viagra: The risks of recreational use:

Among the patients who used Sildenafil, there was a worrisome 2- to 5.7-fold increased practice of unsafe sex compared with those patients who did not use Sildenafil. Additionally, the rate of sexually transmitted diseases (STD) was nearly 2-fold greater in the individuals who used Sildenafil.

Although this study only looked at data regarding homosexual males, it stands to reason that increased and indiscriminate heterosexual activity would also engender some risks.

This raises a question in my mind. Although media advertising extols the virtues of Viagra (hmmm, virtues and viagra in the same sentence), the main thrust of that advertising is plainly directed at recreational users. I don't recall at the moment which one of the Sildenafil drugs is being advertised, but it includes a warning that an erection that exceeds four hours in length will require immediate medical attention. The choices are limited... visit your personal physician, the hospital emergency room, a local outpatient center, or call 911. How are you going to explain your problem. What kind of 'medical attention' are you going to request? This boggles the mind!

As to the title of this post, does it need explaining?

Update: I think this quote from Science Daily speaks to the recreational use of these drugs more clearly:

[...]recreational use of these drugs is associated with higher risks of sexually-transmitted diseases (STD's), including HIV. In a study in the current issue of The American Journal of Medicine, researchers from the San Francisco Department of Public Health evaluated 14 studies of Sildenafil use among men who have sex with men (MSM).

Sildenafil users engaged in unprotected sex with partners of unknown HIV status from twice as often to almost six times as often as non-users. HIV-positive MSM were almost twice as likely to be diagnosed with an STD if they were also Sildenafil users and the newly HIV infected were 2.5 times as likely to be users.

Further complicating the situation, 54% of users mixed Sildenafil with other drugs to enhance the sexual experience. One study reported that 36% of all Sildenafil users combined its use with other drugs, including methamphetamines (23%), ecstasy (18%), poppers (15%), ketamine (11%), and GHB (8%). A study among MSM seeking STD clinic services in San Francisco found Sildenafil to be used concurrently with ecstasy (43%), methamphetamines (28%), and amyl nitrate (15%).

Please note that the acronym MSM in the above quote DOES NOT stand for Mainstream Media!

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