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Maybe Irv Gotti Should Look Into This

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Viagra Rival Levitra Approved


Drug Helps Erectile Dysfunction, Acts Faster

By Jeanie Lerche Davis

Reviewed By Michael Smith, MD

on Wednesday, August 20, 2003

WebMD Medical News




Aug. 20, 2003 -- Levitra has just won FDA approval -- a move toward challenging the groundbreaking erectile dysfunction drug Viagra. But what does Levitra have to offer that the little blue pill doesn't?



The news will hopefully bring more men to their doctors, opening up more conversations about this still-secret subject, says Natan Bar-Chama, MD, urologist and director of male reproductive surgery at Mt. Sinai Medical Center in New York City.



"We'll hopefully encourage more patients, and also physicians, to be more proactive in addressing this problem," he tells WebMD. Bar-Chama, who was not associated with the studies, agreed to comment on the announcement.



The Drugs



Viagra, the first pill for erectile dysfunction, was developed by Pfizer, Inc. and put on the market in 1998.



Levitra, co-developed by Bayer Pharmaceuticals and GlaxoSmithKline, takes effect a bit quicker than Viagra -- in less than 20 minutes for some men. Also, it keeps acting for about five hours, compared with Viagra's four hours, the company says. GlaxoSmithKline is a WebMD sponsor. Bayer and Glaxo say Levitra will be available in September.



Cialis, another erectile dysfunction drug in the pipeline, is expected to get FDA approval later this year. Cialis takes effect quickly (in 30 minutes or less), and its effects last about 36 hours. Also, its effectiveness is not affected by food, which has been a problem with Viagra, says Cialis maker Eli Lilly and Company, a WebMD sponsor.



The Mechanics



Levitra has been studied in more than 50 clinical trials involving 5,700 men. In Europe, it has been available since March 2003, and has shown to be effective and safe in treating erectile dysfunction.



Like Viagra, Levitra acts by relaxing muscles and blood vessels in the penis, allowing increased blood flow into the penis, which produces an erection.



With Levitra, onset of action occurs within 16 minutes for some men, between 30 to 60 minutes for others. Viagra starts acting 45 to 90 minutes after taking the pill. "On a practical level, it doesn't make a big difference. Both time-frames are adequate to engage in satisfactory relations," says Bar-Chama.



Also, Levitra works well when taken either before or after a low-fat meal, Bar-Chama tells WebMD. "High-fat meals tended to diminish onset of action and absorption with Viagra. It appears that with low-fat meals, Levitra is not affected."



He did not comment on whether low-fat meals aid Viagra's absorption.



For difficult-to-treat men who have diabetes and or have had prostate surgery, both Levitra and Viagra work equally well in solving erectile dysfunction, he adds. However, like Viagra, Levitra is not advised for men taking nitrate drugs (such as nitroglycerin tablets or patches) or alpha-blockers (drugs used to treat benign prostate hyperplasia and/or high blood pressure).



Cialis takes effect in 16 to 30 minutes, and stays active in the body for about 36 hours. Also, absorption of Cialis is not affected by either high-fat or low-fat meals, according to Carole Copeland, a Lilly spokeswoman.



Wide-Scale Problem



More than 50% of men over age 40 will experience erectile dysfunction at some time," says Bar-Chama.



"And yet, only nine out of 10 are currently not being treated. This is a medical problem that significantly affects quality of life, and yet, for the vast majority, there is still a barrier to discussing and getting effective medical therapy. Hopefully, this news will awaken more men, get them to talk to their doctors."




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