Thursday, November 22, 2007

Viagra's Advent

The following story was written 9 years ago when I was visiting US and stayed with my Urologist relative near the Canadian border. It was hot news then. I let my imagination go a bit wild and wrote this story which got published. Both the desi version and the imported version are available for several years now and as far as I know the expected calamities described below have not happened!

The imminent prospect of viagra’s advent into the Indian drug scene fills me with trepidation. Why am I anxious instead of being happy with the prospect of many of my elderly patients rediscovering their lost fountain of youth? It appears to work in 60% of men who have organic [something wrong between legs] or psychological [something wrong between the ears] or who have a combination of both. Fortunately it will not enhance sexual performance of normal men. So what is going to happen when sizeable numbers of men start taking this drug? Mind you, one should take the drug an hour before the scheduled performance and some men wrongly believe that once taken it will have the desired effect forever! Most of the wives of these men will be either menopausal or postmenopausal age and many will have lost interest in active sex or reconciled or even enjoying life with out the pester of a demanding husband. Viagra might change this truce and peace and the women may once again have to yield to the sexual demands of their husbands. Number of them will be unwilling and or incapable of enjoying sex. This may lead to problems of aging men chasing wives of other men, younger women and even trying sex workers with all the antecedent social turmoil.

The scene may not be far of when we start seeing respectable elderly men seeking help to get treatment for venereal disease and even worse, for AIDS! Will the warning that those who are on medication for high blood pressure and or heart disease may suffer serious side effects which include death, prevent such men from indulging in this drug? I donot think so. For the pleasure of sex there are many men out there who will not mind having blood pressure or even heart disease! Their commonsense argument may make them think, ‘ok, today or night I will take Viagra and omit the BP pill, any way I have often forgotten to take it and nothing has happened when I have missed! And have a go and hell with the warning.

This drug will sooner or later will hit the Indian drug market. Incidentally the real name of this drug is not Viagra but Sildenafil citrate. Like film actresses changing their names the drug company which makes the drug has given Sildenafil this glamour name and this seem to have really hit among other areas of the body, men’s imagination, as no drug has ever done before. What is going to happen when it hits the market? In the US it is now priced at 10 dollars a pill and is considered expensive even by American standards and that has not prevented Americans who are in real or imaginary need for buying it are lobbying for this drug to be made available against their insurance.

There were reports of Canadians for whom it wasn't available; making a bee line across the border to the US in search of the drug, reminiscent of the liquor starved Andhras crossing over to Karnataka for their FMILS [foreign made Indian liquor]. Going by these indications this Indian made or imported Sildenafil is not going to come cheap. My guess is that it is going to cost anywhere between 100 to 200 Rs a pill and it will be made available only against a prescription. It will be, thus, priced out of the reach of large a majority of us who are poor. These people might have to agitate to get this drug available in our government hospitals and use our voting clout to impress our MLAs and MPs to take up this issue and make it freely available. I am imagining the scene in the parliament where our aging MPs who have had the benefit of free use, strongly advocating the free availability of this drug in their constituencies for the needy or even demand a quota to be allotted to each of them to distribute to those whom they consider in need. Appears far-fetched you think, wait and see.

The remaining, the so-called middle class who always has to pay for their pleasures or their miseries will have a problem. How to get it even if it means only for an occasional indulgence like his half a glass of weekend beer? He will have to go to his own doctor and explain his need to get a prescription. The family doctor being the familiar fool he is, may not take kindly to this request, and may even start talking about the need or no need for sex at his [patient’s] age and what would his [the pill seeker’s] wife think of this sudden urge? And start a sermon on the side effects on his heart BP etc. Having got over this and at the cost of climbing down a notch or two in the doctor’s estimation, and getting the prescription he goes to the chemist. It is quite likely he will get an interested look from the chemist and the precious potion is at last made available. The next step is taking the pill and hope that the wife will appreciate the long forgotten advances and suitably responds. Consider even this hurdle overcome, then the million-dollar question is whether he belongs to the 60% in whom it works or the 40% in whom it will not. Let us say he is the lucky one and belongs to the successful 60%. He may, still have to face the distinct and extremely unpleasant possibility of not only not getting his much needed morning coffee but a stern warning from his beloved wife never to put her through the experience once again.

He will, then have no option but to wait till another potency pill, this time only for women is made available, and fondly hope when that happens, that he may not have to tell his wife what she told him.

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