by Martha Kempner
May 1, 2012 - 10:20am
Last week the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a new drug designed to help men achieve erections. Called Stendra, the drug is meant to help men with erectile dysfunction (ED), characterized by the inability to achieve or sustain an erection that is firm enough for sexual intercourse. Unlike Viagra, which works in 30-minutes to an hour, Stendra provides an erection in 15 minutes or less.
Stendra has the same side effects and restrictions as Viagra and other ED drugs. Side effects include, headache, redness of the face and other areas, nasal congestion, common cold-like symptoms and back pain, as well as that dangerous erection lasting more than four hours for which men must seek immediate medical care (at the 4 hour and one minute mark, I suppose). These drugs are not safe for men with certain heart conditions. Still, the FDA said that the new drug was safe and "expands the available treatment options to men experiencing erectile dysfunction."
While its manufacturer is clearly hoping to give Viagra a run its money, Stendra may not be the stiff competition (pun intended and stolen from a headline) it had hoped to be in the marketplace; business analysts believe the new drug will reach $68 million in sales this year and will peak (another completely intended pun) in 2017 at $459 million. By contrast, Viagra did $2 billion in sales just last year.
While some men seek help for ED from their doctor, others apparently just go to the corner store. I remember the bodega in my New York City apartment building — which was often out of milk and eggs but always had packages of horny goat weed in stock next to the condoms. Though these over-the-counter "male enhancement" drugs are packaged as "all natural," it turns out that at least one brand contained numerous, potentially dangerous, chemicals.
The FDA issued a warning last week about X-rock. While its label says it contains only herbal ingredients — including horny goat weed, ginggang root, and maca root — it actually contained chemicals including hydroxythiohomosildenafil and sildenafil, one of the main components of Viagra. These ingredients could cause a severe reaction in men taking heart medications, such as nitroglycerin and may lower blood pressure to dangerous levels.
In response to the FDA's warning, the manufacturer recalled the supplement and apologized for the "incomplete" labeling. Seems like a bit of an understatement.