What is Viagra?

Viagra, manufactured by Pfizer, is known generically as sildenafil. It was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in March 1998, as a treatment for erectile dysfunction. Viagra is in a class of drugs called phosphodiesterase (PDE) inhibitors, which work by increasing blood flow to the penis during sexual stimulation. The increased blood flow can cause an erection. Viagra is not intended for women or children.

The so-called “little blue pill” has been linked to adverse events including hearing and vision loss, and cardiovascular events. Most recently studies have linked the drug to an increased risk of melanoma, the most deadly form of skin cancer.

Viagra Side Effects

The most common side effects with Viagra are:

  • Headache
  • Flushing
  • Upset stomach
  • Abnormal vision, such as changes in color vision and blurred vision
  • Muscle pain
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness

Heart attack, stroke, irregular heartbeat and death have occurred in men taking Viagra. Not all men who suffered these complications had heart problems before taking the drug, and it is not know if Viagra caused these problems.

Viagra can cause serious side effects including:

  • An erection that lasts more than four hours, a condition called priapism. If priapism is not treated right away, it can permanently damage the penis.
  • Sudden vision loss in one o both eyes, which can be a sign of a serious eye problem called non-arteritic anterior ischemic optic neuropathy (NAION).
  • Sudden hearing decrease or hearing loss, or a ringing in the ears (tinnitus) or dizziness.

Recent studies have linked Viagra to an increased risk of melanoma, an aggressive form of skin cancer. However, melanoma is not listed as a risk factor on Viagra’s safety label.

Viagra Contraindications

Men who are taking any medications called nitrates, often prescribed for chest pain or pulmonary hypertension, should not take Viagra because it could cause blood pressure to drop to an unsafe level.

Viagra and Melanoma

Laboratory research into how Viagra acts on cell-to-cell signaling pathways demonstrated that the drug mimics key parts of a process that allows melanoma cells to spread to other parts of the body. When skin cancer spreads – or metastasizes – it becomes more difficult to treat and worsen the odds of survival. This finding prompted researchers to investigate whether men who used Viagra were more likely to develop the deadly form of skin cancer.

In 2000, a Harvard-based study questioned more than 25,000 male participants about their use of Viagra, history of sun exposure, and genetic skin cancer risk. And while “cause and effect” could not be proven, researches did find that 4.3 of every 1,000 men who did not take Viagra developed melanoma compared to 8.6 of every 1,000 men who did take the drug.

In 2014, JAMA Internal Medicine published a study involving more than 25,000 men that found that men who had recently used Viagra were 84 percent more likely to develop melanoma compared to men who had never used the drug, over a period of a decade. Men who had used Viagra at any time had a similar increased risk.

The study also found there was no increased risk of developing other forms of skin cancers, such as basal cell carcinoma and squamous cell carcinoma, among Viagra users. Furthermore, there was no direct link between erectile dysfunction and melanoma.

In 2016, the FDA announced it was investigating the link between PDE-5 inhibitors, including Viagra and melanoma, and evaluating whether there was a need for regulatory action.

Viagra Lawsuit

Hundreds of people have filed lawsuits against Pfizer alleging the company should have warned the public that Viagra could cause an increased risk of melanoma. More than 650 Viagra lawsuits have been consolidated in a multidistrict litigation pending in the Northern District of California under Judge Richard Seeborg.

Viagra Lawyer

Attorneys with Beasley Allen Law Firm are currently investigating cases of melanoma in men who have been treated with Viagra. If you or a loved one has used Viagra and developed melanoma, we would like to talk to you about a possible claim.


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