Laboratory Equipment

April 17, 2017

By Erin O'Neill

When scientists with the pharmaceutical company Pfizer started clinical trials in 1991 on a chemical compound named UK-92480, they aimed to show the drug’s potential therapeutic benefit for a cardiovascular condition caused by restricted blood flow to the heart muscle.
Less than two years later, hope that the compound, now better known as sildenafil, could treat angina began to fade.

But the drug wasn’t shelved. Rather, scientists began exploring whether one of the drug’s reported side effects—erections—could help men suffering from another condition.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 1998 approved sildenafil, under the brand name Viagra, for the treatment of erectile dysfunction. In its first year on the market, sales of the little blue pill topped $1 billion.

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