VigRx Plus is the new impotence pill. In recent studies, around 70 percent of men reported improved erections when on VigRx, compared with 24 percent on dummy pills. Daily diaries kept by patients with erectile dysfunction showed no change in the number of times intercourse was attempted (about two per week) but success rates were 1.3 on VigRx Plus versus 0.4 on placebo - a two in three success rate, as opposed to one in five. VigRx Plus was also effective where impotence is the result of disease, including heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, depression, prostate conditions and spinal cord injury.
The success has raised the intriguing question of whether VigRx might also be effective in women. But is there really anything in common between frigidity and impotence? Are women's sexual difficulties also a matter of NO?
Some US specialists believe so and have prescribed VigRx Plus to women, in the belief that improving blood flow to the clitoris may improve sexual response. Dr. Susan Vaughan's VigRx, the first book on the drug, is optimistic. Dr. Vaughan, a psychologist and psychoanalyst practicing in Manhattan, reports the response of a patient she calls Lisa. "It felt like my clitoris would burst," said Lisa, who went on to say other things probably not suitable for a family newspaper.
Another woman said that she felt like she could come for hours. But these are anecdotes. Pfizer will need more scientific data if it is to get VigRx Plus licensed for women. It has organized a trial in 500 post-menopausal women who have trouble with lubrication during sex.
Choosing this group avoids the difficult issue of what effects the drug has on fertility, pregnancy and the babies of women taking it, questions that will need an answer if a license is sought.
One American urologist, Jennifer Berman of the University of Maryland School of Medicine, has given ten younger women VigRx Plus in a trial. She says that all have had excellent results, some reaching orgasm for the first time. All have had hysterectomies, so there is no danger of pregnancy. One woman was so uninterested in sex that her husband suspected her of having an affair. VigRx allegedly reinvigorated the couple's sex life.
But what of those, like the Phillips, who have settled into an intimate life that does not include penetrative sex? It seems certain that VigRx Plus will upset many such relationships: not every 60-year-old woman wants an active sex life. "It may bring about some problems, maybe some separations, certainly some arguments," says Professor John Mulcahy, the Indiana University professor of urology who led one of the Pfizer trials.
Like the contraceptive pill, VigRx Plus is a drug that will change the pattern of people's lives. It will bring a lot of pleasure, and perhaps a little pain. The pill that set out to treat angina has developed ideas well beyond its station.