The Truth About Viagra

It's one of the most recognizable drugs ever developed. To date more than 1 billion tablets have been sold, and along the way it's developed something of a wonder drug status: a reputation it can solve all sexual problems.

As CBS News Correspondent Elizabeth Kaledin reports, Ed Buckner jumped at the chance to try it when his doctor suggested it might help a dwindling sex drive.

"It's talked about in movies, it's made jokes of, and I think that the general consensus is if you have a problem you can pop a pill," says Buckner.

That concerns doctors like Abe Morgentaler.

"All Viagra does is increase blood flow," says Morgentaler. "It doesn't do anything to the brain."

And it also doesn't do anything to the heart according to Morgentaler, who's written a book called the "Viagra Myth."

"Viagra can't create love, can't create intimacy and can't create desire," says Morgentaler.

Morgentaler is particularly troubled by a growing population of younger men getting Viagra from the Internet for social and not medical reasons.

"If you can get a pill off the Internet and not have any doctor or health care provider then you're on your own, this is now a lifestyle medication," says Morgentaler.

Viagra's manufacturer, Pfizer, says the vast majority of men know what Viagra can and cannot do and use it wisely. But Janice Lipsky agrees the drug has become larger than life.

"It's become an icon," Lipsky.

It's contributed to a male sexual revolution, she says, removing the stigma of impotence. That in turn has helped many relationships like this one written about in a letter sent to the company:

"It has made a marked change for the better in our lives," the letter reads.

But because expectations are so high, Viagra has also disappointed many. According to industry reports fewer than 50 percent of men who've tried it go back for more.

In the end it didn't work for Buckner. He was suffering from a hormonal problem that was successfully treated, and he disliked the lack of spontaneity.

"From the beginning it just never really did what I hoped it would do for me," says Buckner.

Buckner admits, through anecdotes and ads, men are somehow led to believe Viagra can cure any sexual problem.

It may be the answer for millions, but for others it will remain a pill whose reputation is more potent than its effect.
  • Jaime Holguin

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