November 19, 2005

Viagra may be useful for serious lung disease

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Treatment with Viagra
(sildenafil) can improve exercise capacity and functional
ability in patients with pulmonary arterial hypertension, a
serious disease involving high pressure in the blood vessels
that enter the lungs, new research suggests.

The findings, which appear in The New England Journal of
Medicine, are based on a study of 278 patients who were
randomly selected to receive Viagra, at one of three doses, or
inactive "placebo" three times daily for 12 weeks.

The main endpoint was the distance walked in 6 minutes.
According to the report, the study did not have enough patients
to assess the effect of Viagra on the risk of death.

At all of the doses tested, Viagra significantly improved
the 6-minute walking distance when compared with placebo, lead
author Dr. Nazzareno Galie, from the University of Bologna in
Italy, and colleagues note. For the 222 patients who used
Viagra for 1 year, the improvement in distance was 51 meters.

In addition, all of the Viagra doses were associated with a
significant drop in lung blood pressure and with an improvement
in functional ability.

Consistent with previous reports, side effects, such as
flushing and diarrhea, were more common with Viagra than with
placebo, the findings indicate.

"This study demonstrates the efficacy and safety of
sildenafil in the treatment of patients with symptomatic
pulmonary artery hypertension," the researchers conclude.
However, as noted, the study was not designed to assess
Viagra's effect on the risk of death.

The study was funded by Pfizer, Inc., which markets Viagra.

SOURCE: The New England Journal of Medicine, November 17,