CBSN

Release Of Viagra Info. Fought

The maker of Viagra is heading to court to block the release of Canadian health department records about the popular anti-impotence drug.

The pharmaceutical company Pfizer filed a notice of motion this month to prevent Health Canada from releasing documents under the federal Access to Information Act about the safety and effectiveness of Viagra.

The documents were requested in February by the Toronto based newspaper, The Canadian Press.

The move is being taken despite the department's decision that the records do not contain any information harmful to the company and should be made public.

"All I can say is obviously there are fairly significant areas that we feel very strongly ... are either not proprietary information, or not confidential or not injurious," Margery Snider, of the access to information section of Health Canada, said from Ottawa.

About 1,300 pages of information on Viagra are held by Health Canada. But Pfizer objects to the release of documents detailing, among other things, drug-reviewers' comments about the product, Snider said.

Pfizer spokesman Don Sancton said the company is still negotiating with Health Canada.

"We have to review it, and then if there are particular areas or bits of information that we then feel, hey, you should be severing this as well, then we have to have those discussions with them," Sancton said from Kirkland, Que., where Pfizer is based.

"It's still under discussion and we hope we'll reach an agreement with Health Canada before it goes to court."

Viagra, the first pill drug for erectile dysfunction, was approved in Canada last March following a review of Pfizer's clinical trials, labeling, manufacturing process and other criteria. It became the country's fastest-selling drug within a month.

The federal OK in Canada came a year after its approval in the U.S. There had been controversy after death reports from around the world involving about 170 patients on Viagra who were also taking certain heart medications. The deaths haven't been directly linked to the drug.

Canadian labeling of Viagra specifies that the drug is dangerous for anyone on nitrates such as nitroglycerine.

Under the Access to Information act, Canadians can apply for copies of any federal records, such as memos, reports and letters, including information relating to the approval of a drug.

Viagra, or sildenafil, increases blood flow to the penis to help men achieve an erection. Trials are currently under way to determine its effect on women.