The introduction of sildenafil (Viagra) in 1998 unleashed a tidal wave
of interest in medical treatment for erectile dysfunction (ED). Although data
from the Massachusetts Male Aging Study indicated that approximately 52% of
men aged 40 to 70 years experienced some degree of ED,1 many
of these men were either unaware of treatment options for the condition, averse
to the invasive nature of some of the existing options, or too embarrassed
to discuss the topic with a physician. The heavy direct-to-consumer marketing
campaign that accompanied the release of this drug contributed to a new, open
discussion in popular culture about this highly prevalent condition; ED was
suddenly fair game for late night comics and national news magazine covers.
By the end of 1999, Viagra was a billion-dollar drug.2 From
1996 to 2000, the national rate of physician office visits during which ED
was one of the reasons for the encounter increased by almost 50%.3
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