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Approved in 1998, Viagra (sildenafil citrate) was the first drug for treating erectile dysfunction introduced to the market, paving the way for Cialis and other medications.

Part of a class of drugs known as PDE-5 inhibitors, Viagra was promoted as a safe yet somewhat expensive treatment option, running up to $25 per pill. Yet, not long after its introduction, patients came forward to describe serious side effects, including heart attacks, strokes, vision, and hearing problems. The latest lawsuit addresses increased susceptibility to melanoma.

History of Side Effects

Patients experiencing life-changing side effects dot the drug’s history.

Hearing loss emerged as the first. Patients complained of a partial or total loss, and in response, the FDA required Pfizer to modify the drug’s warning label in 2005.

Vision loss, specifically condition onarteritic anterior ischemic optic neuropathy (NAION), followed. It was discovered that Viagra may also block blood flow to the optic nerve. As a result, patients experienced conditions ranging from vision changes and decreased vision to blindness and NAION, otherwise known as an “eye stroke.”

Related to this, later claims pointed out that the drug’s effects lead to a sudden drop in blood pressure, which, in turn, makes patients susceptible to heart attacks and strokes.

More recently, a study published in the Journal of American Medicine revealed men taking Viagra had an 84-percent greater chance of developing melanoma over a decade of starting the drug. Researchers examined 25,000 men, with an average age of 65. Six percent of the group used Viagra at some point.

In the process, they found the drug lowers protein PDE5A, a bodily component that naturally wards against cancer, and opens the body’s protective pathways. In response, skin cancer has potential to attack aggressively.

Because the body has fewer protective mechanisms, patients who took Viagra developed squamous cell carcinoma, basal cell carcinoma, or incidences of melanoma. Data indicated the condition occurred in men with less-than-average sun exposure and who had no family history of skin cancer, and that only melanoma, and no other variations, formed.

Lawsuits

Viagra currently displays no warning about an increased melanoma risk, and doctors, upon prescribing the drug, never informed patients a life-threatening condition could develop.

Patients living through and needing treatment for this side effect started filing lawsuits in 2014, alleging they weren’t aware of the melanoma risks and would have avoided Viagra if given a warning. Furthermore, plaintiffs state that, if they and their doctors knew taking Viagra could potentially lead to skin cancer, their growths could have been detected earlier.

Did you take Viagra, even a decade ago, and then go through multiple cancer treatments after discovering you developed melanoma? As this drug’s been on the market for nearly two decades, patients should have been alerted to the side effects.