It’s hard to write seriously about Viagra. No sooner did the drug help erectile dysfunction than it opened the opportunity for countless puns. Additionally, the name of co-inventor Albert Wood worsens the situation. However, in hindsight, Viagra cured a serious problem.
Wood and Viagra co-inventor Peter Dunn were working on a blood pressure medicine. Early tests were disappointing. Viagra didn’t meaningfully control blood pressure but it was impossible to ignore a side effect that popped up. Subsequently, men reluctantly reported erections.
While we try to maintain a serious composure in these entries it is impossible to imagine study participants reporting Viagra’s side effects without at least a smirk. Notwithstanding, they overcame the embarrassment and rose to the occasion.
Before Viagra, there was no cure for erectile dysfunction. Nobody thought the problem was serious. Thanks in part to the AIDS epidemic sex again became taboo, something necessary only to make babies. Puritans defined sexual gratification as a dirty primal instinct reserved solely for men.
Thanks to sexist portrayals of women as Victorian matriarchs uninterested in sex, people positioned Viagra solely as a drug for men. There is no acknowledgment that, except for gay men, it is useless without a woman.
Yes, men with erectile dysfunction wanted erections. And their sexual partners wanted the same. And nothing is wrong with that. Erectile dysfunction affected the well being of countless men and women.
Pfizer’s Multi-Billion Dollar Mistake
Bell and his team alleged were working on a high-blood-pressure drug that proved ineffective but had an unintended side effect, causing erections in men. Pfizer pivoted to testing the usefulness of their drug and found it effective to treat erectile dysfunction. Viagra became a blockbuster.
Dunn and Wood are the first registered patent holders for Viagra, in UK patent WOWO9849166A1. “I can’t say anything, you’ll have to talk to the press office,” said Wood when asked who invented Viagra.
Furthermore, a Pfizer spokesperson, answering questions about whether Dunn and Wood were adequately rewarded, answered with uncharacteristic honesty. “Life might seem cruel, but they are paid to work for the company and the company owns their innovations. Literally, hundreds of people at Pfizer have been involved in developing the drug. You can’t really point to two individuals and say they spawned Viagra.”