The FDA approves Viagra

Viagra’s main function was originally just considered a side effect when the medication was being developed for the treatment of heart problems like angina or chest pain.

Soon after tests started, developers at the pharmaceutical company Pfizer recognised the potential of the drug insofar as it intensified and increased the longevity of erections, and they applied for a patent which named Peter Dunn and Albert Wood as inventors.

By increasing blood flow to the penis, Dunn and Wood hoped to address erectile dysfunction in men. Viagra is now one of many drugs on the market targeted to that specific demographic.

For some, this represents an invaluable respite in an embarrassing or even ‘emasculating’ condition. To others, the drug and particularly the government money spent on it, are just another sign of the preferential consideration of men’s health and in particular men’s sexual wellbeing over women’s. Such connotations and conceptions surrounding the pill make it an important part of the American lexicon.

Later in his presidency, Donald Trump was questioned about the military’s spending on viagra after he tweeted in an attempt to ban transgender people from serving in the military. According to the Military Times, about 84 million United States dollars are spent by the military each year on the drug, suggesting that it is a basic commodity for soldiers while transgender people were deemed too expensive, although the annual medical cost for those in transition would only be one 10th of that spent on viagra.

In one final example of viagra in American culture, late night talk show host Stephen Colbert alluded to viagra in a satirical commercial he produced advertising, “Viagrageddon,” for “button dysfunction,” referring to nuclear launch buttons. This phallic comparison arose after Trump tweeted: “North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un just stated that the ‘Nuclear Button is on his desk at all times.’ Will someone from his depleted and food starved regime please inform him that I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works!” 

Laughing matter, source of spite or medicinal aid, viagra seems here to stay. The culture surrounding it, however, seems up for discussion.

Image: Wikimedia Commons

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