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Nursing Hormone Could Give Viagra a Run for Its Money

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OUT OF THE BLUE
DailyFeed

When every pharma on the planet has your love drug in its sights, you do what you have to do. Viagra maker Pfizer (PFE) knows this better than anyone -- after a pretty clever maneuver earlier in the year, it managed to get a patent extension that will keep generic Viagra off the shelves in this country until at least 2020.

But Pfizer may need to come up with some new tricks long before that if research on the hormone oxytocin pans out.

Typically used in the maternity ward to ease labor, oxytocin is also a naturally occurring hormone that helps women produce breast milk and bond with their infants.

And like breast milk and bonding, it may also get some men aroused. It certainly worked on one man, according to a case study published in this month's The Journal of Sexual Medicine.

The married man used an oxytocin nasal spray twice a day per the instructions of two UC San Diego researchers. His libido increased, his erections became easier, and his overall sexual performance improved, according to his wife and the study results. As a side effect, he also became nicer at work.

It's obviously not a great idea to extrapolate from a single case study, but pharma doctors can't help being excited about the possibilities anyway. Michael Wyllie, Ph.D., founder of Plethora Solutions Holdings and former Pfizer employee, told The Independent:

Given the number of erectile-dysfunction patients who don't respond to drugs like Viagra, there is a great medical need for a new class of drug; this case study suggests there is a basis for optimism that this is achievable. Assuming positive clinical trials, a drug based on this approach could achieve blockbuster potential.

Oxytocin is also being studied in neuroeconomics, where it's already established as a hormone that increases empathy and trust. In one study, researchers who gave men nasal doses found that, when compared with the control group, the drug "more than doubled the number of subjects who trusted a stranger with all their money...generosity was 80% higher among participants who received OT compared to those who received the placebo."

A drug that improves a man's sexual performance and makes him want to give away his money? Step aside, Viagra.
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