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Viagra About to Get Some Competition

Aired August 18, 2003 - 19:52   ET


DARYN KAGAN, CNN ANCHOR: Here we go. Viagra, it's about to get some competition in the erectile dysfunction market. So glad I came to work today to have a chance to say that on television. But it's five years after the little blue pill made a big splash in the U.S. Hey, there's two rivals that are bound for the U.S., and now Susan Lisovicz explains they are taking take a slightly different approach than Viagra does, and they help make a growing market even bigger.

SUSAN LISOVICZ, CNNfn CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): If the sexual revolution began with the birth control pill, then it got its second wind with Viagra. The breakthrough pill to treat male impotence has become in five years one of the best known brand names in the world. Viagra claims about three million users in the U.S., but analysts say the market is much bigger than that.

TONY BUTLER, PHARMACEUTICAL ANALYST, LEHMAN BROTHERS: The number of people approaching the age 50 is increasing every year.

LISOVICZ: That sets the stage for a little known rival, expected to soon win FDA approval, named Levitra.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Levitra? Levitra? That's a new word in my vocabulary.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is that a French word? Levitra? Never heard about Levitra in my life.

LISOVICZ: But Levitra is well known in more than 30 countries where it is already sold. And while Major League Baseball has been used as a platform for selling Viagra, Mike Ditka will pitch Levitra in a campaign timed to coincide with the start of the football season.

Still another competitor, Cialis, is expected to get government clearance soon. Cialis, also sold overseas, has been dubbed "the weekender," because it lasts up to 36 hours. Experts say the market potential is tremendous.

DR. IRWIN GOLDSTEIN, UROLOGIST PROFESSOR, B.U. SCHOOL OF MEDICINE: I have a very important phrase, the penis knows no loyalty. I think that men who have had erection problems don't need to stay with a certain therapy if it's not giving them the response that they would like.

LISOVICZ: The pills are similar in their pricing and the way they work.

(on camera): One striking difference maybe the approach advertisers take in tackling this most sensitive of male problems. Levitra is expected to appeal to women, to get their men out of denial and over to a physician.

Susan Lisovicz, CNN, New York.


KAGAN: Cialis and Levitra do have other differences that may affect their usage. Differences in the time that they take to work and how long they last. Joining us now from Los Angeles is UCLA urologist Dr. Jennifer Berman to walk us through these differences.

Dr. Berman, just in the nick of time. Good to have you with us. Does America really need another sex pill?

DR. JENNIFER BERMAN, UROLOGIST: Well, I mean, I think the question is do we -- how do we value sexual function and sexual health in both men and women? And the answer is if there is improvements and there is other option for men, I think, yes, we do. I don't know whether I agree with that comment that the penis has no loyalty. That guy...

KAGAN: That's a subject for a different night.

BERMAN: ... speaks for himself.

KAGAN: How about some of these differences? One to last the whole weekend long? I mean, Dr. Berman! There's other things to do over the weekend, you know.

BERMAN: Other than that? Well, I mean, to each his own, but the point is that drugs longer acting with less side effects is a good thing. Viagra is a very safe, very well tolerated medication, but it doesn't necessarily work in all men, and I think that the goals of these other drugs are to increase the number of people that might benefit from these drugs. And something that lasts 36 hours, you're not going to be walking around with an erection for 36 hours, that means that that's a window of opportunity that you can use.

KAGAN: Thanks for answering the question that I didn't quite know how to phrase. But I appreciate the answer.

How about this marketing idea of marketing to women? So that women go have their men go get a drug for this. This is very different. This is going against the stereotype that women don't want more sex from men, that they actual want less sex?

BERMAN: Well, I think that's a really important issue. That women do -- I mean, giving a man an erection to -- in a situation where a woman doesn't want to have sex, that's going to be a problem. And appealing to women and women's needs and women's issues and women's getting their partners -- or their husbands, or partners, whoever it is, into their doctors' offices to talk about it is a new and different strategy, and a unique approach. And I think it's important.

KAGAN: That it is.

BERMAN: Definitely.

KAGAN: Dr. Jennifer Berman, thanks for explaining the new pills on the way. I appreciate it. Thank you for your time.


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