Alprostadil cream in the treatment of erectile dysfunction: clinical evidence and experience

Ther Adv Urol. 2016 Aug;8(4):249-256. doi: 10.1177/1756287216644116. Epub 2016 May 3.


Erectile dysfunction (ED) is a very common disorder with a deep impact on quality of life on both patients and partners. Several options are available for treating ED: oral pharmacotherapy with phosphodiesterase 5 (PDE5) inhibitors currently represents the first-line option for many patients with ED. Alprostadil, a prostaglandin, has been marketed for many years as a urethral stick and an intracavernous injection for the treatment of ED. It is now available in the form of a cream (Vitaros/Virirec), a noninvasive treatment which combines an active drug (alprostadil, a synthetic prostaglandin E1) with a skin enhancer improving its local absorption directly at the site of action. Alprostadil has a favourable pharmacodynamic profile and is poorly absorbed in systemic circulation, which makes it suitable in a lot of circumstances and results in a reduced risk of adverse effects (AEs). Systemic AEs are reported in only 3% of the treated population. Clinical efficacy has been demonstrated in both phase II and III trials, showing a global efficacy up to 83% with the 300 μg dose in patients with severe ED, significantly better than placebo. Its fast onset of action and lack of interactions with other drugs makes alprostadil cream a possible first-line therapeutic option for some patients with ED: individuals who are reluctant to take systemic treatments or have AEs, patients who do not respond, cannot tolerate, or do not accept PDE5 inhibitor therapy, and patients treated with nitrates. Therefore, this new treatment for ED can be offered to patients and could help address the needs unmet by other treatments.

Keywords: alprostadil cream; clinical evidence; real life.

Publication types

  • Review