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Levitra and Cialis Make Their Debut: Should You Make The Switch?
by Stanley Ducharme, Ph.D.

Those second generation sex pills were a long time in coming. After several years of speculation, the impotence drugs Levitra and Cialis finally made their debut in the second half of 2003. Levitra received FDA approval in August 2003 and Cialis received its approval on November 21, 2003.With three drugs now on the market for erectile dysfunction, many men have wanted to try an alternative to Viagra.

Studies had reported that Levitra and Cialis were supposed to act a little faster, last a little longer and have fewer side effects than Viagra. These new drugs were also reported to be effective in some cases where Viagra had failed. Anticipation has been high for many men who have been dissatisfied with Viagra.

Viagra, Levitra as well as Clialis, all work by blocking the PDE-5 enzyme and causing the smooth muscles of the penis to relax. As a result, blood flow increases to the penis and an erection is achieved. None of the drugs however affect libido. They require the man to be sexually excited.

With proper stimulation, studies have shown that all three of the drugs are effective in helping at least 7 out of 10 men with erection problems. Unfortunately without some hormone supplement such as testosterone, these drugs tend not to be effective with women. For women, blood flow alone is rarely the cause of sexual difficulties.

Many people had predicted that the introduction of Levitra and Cialis would herald what was likely to be one of the pharmaceutical industries fiercest battles-taking on Viagra. Although Cialis has only recently become available, Levitra has been on the market since September of 2003. As a result, these two drugs have been going head to head for several months.

Early uses of the drugs seem to indicate that most doctors feel that there isn’t that much difference between them. Most men get good results from either Viagra or Levitra. As a result, what seems to be happening is that men who had been using Viagra are sticking with Viagra and doctors are giving Levitra to many men who have not used an erection drug in the past. Physicians often see these drugs as interchangeable.

Men with more complicated medical histories may very well respond favorably to Lavitra or Cialis. These drugs have been effective in many cases where Viagra has failed. For example, the new drugs are said to be more effective in men with diabetes as well as those men who have had prostate surgery. In the past, men with complex medical problems have been unable to find a natural method of achieving erections.

The desire and interest in Cialis may give Viagra its biggest challenge. The pending arrival of this Lilly-ICOS drug has caused much excitement and anticipation for some time in the medical community. Now that it’s available, many people doubt that Viagra can maintain its market share. This is where the real battle will occur.

In Europe, where the drug has been available for nearly a year, Cialis is taking a huge chunk of the Viagra market. Since the drug can last up to four times as long as the other medications, Cialis claims to give couples back their spontaneity, which has been lost with both Viagra and Levitra. With new drugs however come new side effects and Cialis is said to cause low back pain in some men. In addition, many of the familiar side effects of Viagra occur with Cialis as well. These include stuffy nose, headaches, blue vision, and facial flushing.

What does all this mean for men who are currently taking Viagra? Is it worth switching? Most doctors would recommend staying with Viagra if men have had good results in the past. The big difference is that Levitra works a little faster and can be taken on a full stomach. The advantage of Cialis is its length of action. Ultimately each man, after medical consultation, must make the decision whether the extra time and added convenience is worth the chance of different side effects and decreased effectiveness?

As studies have shown, most men with erectile dysfunction (up to 70%) have reacted favorably to Viagra. These men tend to be non-smokers, have good circulation, be free of other medical conditions and younger in age. Some men however have reported that Viagra worked well for a short period of time and then became less effective over time. Certainly, any man who has been disappointed in his response to Viagra should consider discussing the alternatives with his doctor.

To my knowledge, no comparison studies have been published at this time between Viagra and Levitra. This situation will certainly change now that FDA approval has been obtained and the prerequisite clinical trials have ended. As a result, the choice of which drug to use may be based on preference not scientific data. In making this choice, most men consider the seriousness and duration of the side effects as well as the quality of the erection achieved.

The bottom line is that many men with erection problems are doing their own personal comparisons. They care about results and sexual performance in the bedroom-not about scientific studies. For these men, curiosity is a big motivator, especially if they have access to free samples.

Now that Cialis is available in pharmacies, there is a good chance we will see many more men considering a switch. Although duration, spontaneity and side effects are all important, the bottom line is that men want predictable, long lasting quality erections. Most men are willing to endure side effects from these drugs and see them as a necessary evil. Men want the confidence that the erection will be there when needed. Whatever medication meets that need will ultimately be his drug of choice.

At least, men now have alternatives and choice. Hopefully, this healthy competition will also lower the price since cost often makes these drugs unavailable to many men. To date, all three of these medications tend to retail for approximately ten dollars per pill.

During the past decade, we have witnessed the medicalization of human sexuality. This new field of sexual medicine is in its infancy and fantastic discoveries are being made on a regular basis. In the future, look for pills to help control ejaculation and other sexual functions. The female pill also continues to be the focus of intense research and development.

With all this attention on new sex pills and hormone creams, some people are wondering what ever happened to relationships and love? Seems like we’ve gotten overly focused on the mechanics of having sex. Aren’t we missing something here? I think so!

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