Viagra Melanoma Lawsuit

Viagra, the “little blue pill” that has worked wonders for millions of men suffering from erectile dysfunction (ED), may have a downside. According to a study published in the June 2014 issue of JAMA Internal Medicine, the drug has been linked to an increased risk of melanoma in men. The pharmaceuticals lawyers with Baron & Budd may be able to help if you or a loved one has been diagnosed with melanoma after taking Viagra. Please contact us online or call 866-520-2755 to learn more about your legal rights.

In addition to Viagra, other ED drugs may increase the risk of melanoma. These include:

  • Cialis
  • Levitra
  • Staxyn
  • Stendra

How Viagra Works

Viagra, the brand name of the drug sildenafil citrate, was originally designed to treat angina, or chest pain, as well as pulmonary arterial hypertension (blood pressure in vessels that transport blood to the lungs). While the drug was found largely ineffective as a heart medication during clinical trials, results showed that trial participants reported an increase in erections. Pfizer, the manufacturer of Viagra, then re-submitted the drug in hopes of gaining approval to treat ED.

Since it gained U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval in 1998, Viagra has become an incredible financial success. Millions of prescriptions are written for the drug each year and it generated $2 billion in revenue for Pfizer in 2013 alone.

According to the Cleveland Clinic, approximately 10 percent of adult males suffer from long-term ED at one time or another. If a man is unable to achieve an erection more than half of the time, that typically means he has the condition, according to the clinic.

Viagra helps men achieve an erection by increasing blood flow to the penis. This increased blood flow helps a man produce and maintain an erection. It typically works within 30-60 minutes after it is taken.

Melanoma Facts

The JAMA study created a great deal of attention when it was published, because, according to researchers, Viagra can increase the risk of developing melanoma. Approximately 45 million men have taken the drug since it gained FDA approval in 1998, and may have unknowingly put themselves at twice the risk for melanoma development.

Melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer, the Melanoma Research Foundation (MRF) reports. It typically begins in the skin cells (melanocytes) that produce a pigment known as melanin, which provides the skin with its color. Melanocytes produce moles, and melanoma often develops within these moles. However, in some rare instances, melanoma can develop in the eyes or even the mucus membranes.

Fortunately, melanoma is easier to detect in its earliest stage than nearly any other form of cancer. Of course, the earlier that any cancer is detected, the better the chances it can be successfully treated. When melanoma is caught early and treated properly, it is curable 99 percent of the time.
If melanoma is not treated, however, it can spread (metastasize) throughout the body, entering the bones, liver, brain and lungs. If this happens, then it is extremely difficult to treat and is typically fatal.

The MRF estimates that approximately 77,000 cases of melanoma were diagnosed in 2014, leading to an estimated 10,000 deaths. It is one of the fastest growing forms of cancer in not only the United States, but also around the world. Men 50 years and older comprise the most likely age group to develop the disease.

Viagra and Melanoma Study

A team of researchers at Harvard Medical School and the Brigham and Women’s Hospital worked together to analyze data generated by the Health Professionals Follow-Up Study. The data was collected beginning in 1986, encompassing more than 50,000 male healthcare professionals between the ages of 40 and 75. The study consisted of a survey taken every two years.

Starting in 2000, participants were asked questions about ED as well as Viagra, which, at the time, was the only medication available to treat the condition. The surveys also included questions regarding risk factors for melanoma. Participants provided information on their hair color, amount of exposure to the sun, any moles they had, and more. The report that appeared in JAMA reflected the responses of approximately 26,000 study participants, whose average age was 64.

Of those participants, according to the Harvard/Brigham and Women’s Hospital researchers, 6.3 percent reported that they had used Viagra before, with 5.3 percent stating they had recently taken the drug. Malignant melanomas had been diagnosed in 142 of the study participants.

The researchers found that after they controlled for other factors, melanoma risk increased 84 percent in study participants who reported using Viagra – a number nearly twice that of participants who did not report using the drug. Researchers found no risk of developing squamous cell or basal skin cancer – forms of cancer that are far less deadly – from taking Viagra.

According to Harvard Medical School’s Harvard Health Publications, researchers who analyzed the link between Viagra and an increased risk for melanoma believe that the drug mimics part of the process that allows melanoma to metastasize.

It is very important to note, however, that the researchers are not stating Viagra causes melanoma. Rather, they are showing a correlation between Viagra use and melanoma development.


How Baron & Budd Can Help

There is a possibility that Pfizer either knew, or should have known, that Viagra could increase the risk of melanoma – yet the company chose not to warn neither medical professionals or consumers. Men who took the drug and were later diagnosed with the disease may be able to take legal action as a result.

All pharmaceutical manufacturers have the duty to properly study any risks potentially associated with use of their products. When they fail in this duty, they may be held liable.

In addition to Viagra, other ED drugs may increase the risk of melanoma. These include:

  • Cialis
  • Levitra
  • Staxyn
  • Stendra

Please contact Baron & Budd if you or someone close to you developed melanoma after taking Viagra or another medication used to treat ED. Contact us online or call 866-520-2755 to learn more about your potential legal options.