I’m guessing the ‘accidental discovery’ caught your attention more than ‘viagra’. Well, thanks to the accident. And Pfizer.

So. Once upon a time, in 1989, Pfizer chemists in South East England were trying to synthesize a drug that they thought might treat high blood pressure and chest pain (hypertension and angina pectoris). The project showed very little effect and they were nowhere close to the desired results. The trial was on the verge of being shelved. The chemist in charge of the clinical testing, David Brown, was hauled in front of the Senior Management Committee and lambasted for wasting the company’s resources. He was finally given a three-month deadline to prove the efficacy of the drug.

As disappointment finally set in, Brown and his team knew they had lost all hopes and the drug has most probably failed. But then something happened. Something strange. As they began conducting their final set of trials, the participants were asked if there was anything they wanted to report.

One of the men put up his hand and said, “Well, I seemed to have more erections during the night than normal.” and everybody else kind of nodded and said, “So did we.” It was later discovered that the medicines induced penile erections typically within 30 to 60 minutes. The nurses also later reported that the men in the study were lying on their front as they were too embarrassed about it.

On that gloomy evening in South East England, the world had finally chanced upon Viagra. Erectile dysfunction was no longer a problem to be psyched about.

Viagra’s massive success was practically instantaneous. In the first year alone,$8-$10 pills yielded about a billion dollars in sales. And 20 years after its launch, Pfizer continues to generate billions of dollars in revenue from the drug. Data showed that it generated 500 million US dollars in 2019.
Although its sales have decreased steadily over the past seven years because the patent protection expired outside the US in 2012. But, the accidental miracle continues to be one of the most discussed topics of medical history and one of Pfizer’s finest achievements.


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