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Sildenafil citrate, sold under the names Viagra, Revatio and generically under various other names, is a drug used to treat male erectile dysfunction (impotence) and pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH), developed by the pharmaceutical company Pfizer. Viagra pills are blue and diamond-shaped with the words "Pfizer" on one side, and "VGR xx" (where xx stands for "25", "50" or "100", the dose of that pill in milligrams) on the other. Its primary competitors on the market are tadalafil (Cialis), and vardenafil (Levitra).
Sildenafil (compound UK-92,480) was synthesized by a group of pharmaceutical chemists working at Pfizer's Sandwich, Kent research facility. It was initially studied for use in hypertension (high blood pressure) and angina pectoris (a form of ischaemic cardiovascular disease). Phase I clinical trials under the direction of Ian Osterloh suggested that the drug had little effect on angina, but that it could induce marked penile erections.
Pfizer therefore decided to market it for erectile dysfunction, rather than for angina. The drug was patented in 1996, approved for use in erectile dysfunction by the Food and Drug Administration on March 27, 1998, becoming the first pill approved to treat erectile dysfunction in the United States, and offered for sale in the United States later that year.
It soon became a great success: annual sales of Viagra in the period 1999?2001 exceeded $1 billion. The British press portrayed Peter Dunn and Albert Wood as the inventors of the drug, a claim which Pfizer disputes. Their names are on the manufacturing patent application drug, but Pfizer claims this is only for convenience. The "Viagra" name has become so well known that many fake aphrodisiacs now call themselves "herbal Viagra" or are presented as blue tablets imitating the shape and colour of Pfizer's product. Viagra is also informally known as "Vitamin V", "the Blue Pill", as well as various other nicknames.