More MS news articles for Sep 2001

Germany Says 616 People Worldwide Have Died After Taking Viagra

BERLIN (Reuters Health) Sept 07 - Germany's health ministry said Friday that 616 people worldwide had died after using Pfizer Inc.'s Viagra (sildenafil) but cautioned against attributing blame for the deaths to the drug.

In response to a request by a member of parliament, the ministry said the data bank of the Swedish-based Uppsala Monitoring Center (UMC) had recorded 616 incidents of death after Viagra use.

A spokesman for New York-based Pfizer told Reuters that the drug is safe and effective when used as prescribed. "Well-controlled clinical trials show no difference in the incidence of heart attack or death between patients treated with Viagra and those treated with placebo," said Geoff Cook, spokesman for Pfizer.

The German Institute for Pharmaceutical and Medical Products has recorded 77 deaths in the European Union and 30 in Germany, the ministry said.

A spokeswoman for the health ministry said she could only comment about the German cases, in which she said existing health problems rather than Viagra appeared to be the main cause of death. "In the 30 German cases, the patient died at some time after taking Viagra, usually as a result of a heart or circulation complication," she said. "You cannot say that these people died because they took Viagra."

There have been several reports of heart attacks among men taking Viagra, although a study of 5,600 users in England earlier this year said the drug does not increase the risk of heart attacks and heart disease in men.

"Many patients taking Viagra have underlying cardiovascular disease, such as hypertension. Erectile dysfunction is a symptom of those conditions, so they already have risk factors for heart attack," Cook pointed out.

Copyright © 2001 Reuters Ltd