Four-year review of sildenafil citrate

Rev Urol. 2002;4 Suppl 3(Suppl 3):S26-38.


Within 6 months of approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), 5.3 million prescriptions were written for sildenafil citrate. It represented the first clearly effective and FDA-approved oral therapy for the treatment of ED. The chemical structure of sildenafil is very similar to the cyclic guanosine monophosphate molecule with which it competes, in the enzyme phosphodiesterase type-5. Sildenafil binds to the phosphodiesterase-5 enzyme, preventing the breakdown of cyclic guanosine monophosphate through competitive inhibition. The onset of action for sildenafil can be as short as 20 minutes and the duration of action may be as long as three half-lives (18 hours). Anecdotal evidence suggests that many men describe an erectogenic effect for almost 24 hours. The safety of sildenafil has been established in many pre- and postapproval studies at doses as high as eight times the maximum recommended dose. It is likely that the rare instance of myocardial infarction after taking sildenafil as directed, is due more to the activity of sexual intercourse rather than the medication itself. Efficacy have been established in patients with diabetes, parkinsonism, spinal cord injury, and those on antihypertensive (single- and multiple-therapy) agents. It has also been shown to be effective in reversing selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor-induced sexual side effects. Initial concerns about sildenafil with respect to ocular safety were based on misinterpretation of the FDA submission data. The two most common side effects are headache and flushing, both of which are short-lived and easily treated.