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Viagra Use May Lead To Melanoma

Viagra Risky Side Effects May Cause Melanoma Skin Cancer

Research has found that use of Viagra (sildenafil citrate), which is manufactured by Pfizer Inc., may significantly increase risks for skin cancer. In fact, men who used Viagra were 84 percent likelier to be diagnosed with melanoma, which is the deadliest form of skin cancer.

In the United States, more than three-quarters of all skin cancer-related deaths are from melanoma and about one person dies due to melanoma every hour in the U.S. The study also found that men who had only taken Viagra once experienced a doubling of the risk for developing Viagra melanoma. The researchers noted that men taking Viagra who have a high risk of melanoma should speak with their physicians about increased Viagra melanoma risks.

Viagra Melanoma Lawsuits

A California man filed a lawsuit against Pfizer in California federal court, according to an October 2015, Law360 article claiming that Pfizer failed to warn consumers about studies connecting its blockbuster drug, Viagra, to increased melanoma risk. The man claims he would not have taken Viagra if he had been aware of the risk of developing the more serious form of skin cancer. The drug worked as a treatment for erectile dysfunction (ED), but the man said the melanoma risk far outweigh the drug's benefits.

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According to the lawsuit, the plaintiff took Viagra for five years before his doctor noticed a large mark on his shoulder. After two biopsies, his doctor diagnosed melanoma. The plaintiff continued to take the drug for at least two more years before he became aware of studies about the melanoma risk in the Journal of the American Medical Association and other publications. According to the lawsuit, despite "significant findings, Pfizer has made no efforts in its ubiquitous Viagra advertisements to warn users about the potential risk of developing melanoma that has been scientifically linked to its drug." Thirteen similar cases have been filed and more than two-dozen other cases are pending, Law360 reports.

Viagra, originally in development as a drug to treat high blood pressure and angina (chest pain associated with coronary heart disease), inhibits the secretion of a specific enzyme that may prevent erection. Studies published in 2011, 2012, and 2014 found that blocking the enzyme may trigger the creation of melanoma cells. A recent study cited in the lawsuit looked at nearly 26,000 men who take Viagra and found that the risk for recent users increased by 84 percent, compared with that for nonusers. Despite such findings, Pfizer does not list the risk of developing melanoma among possible side effects on the Viagra label and packaging.

As a result of the melanoma, the plaintiff says he has had to endure numerous surgeries and associated medical costs, and he expects melanoma-related bills to continue in the future. The lawsuit seeks unspecified damages and injunctive relief. The lawsuit claims that no man who is prescribed Viagra "would believe or be expected to know that his use of Viagra would expose him to an increased risk of developing melanoma or exacerbating the growth of melanocytes [skin cancer cells] already present in his body," according to Law360

Viagra Melanoma Study Findings

Experts believe that Viagra might affect the genetic mechanism that allows skin cancer to become more aggressive. Viagra is a phosphodiesterase (PDE) 5A inhibitor (PDE5A); is most commonly used in the treatment of erectile dysfunction (ED); and received U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval in 1998.

A study published on April 7, 2014 in JAMA Internal Medicine, was undertaken to evaluate the ties between sildenafil, known by the brand name, Viagra, and increased risks for the development of melanoma. The research followed prior studies that revealed that PDE5A inhibitors, such as Viagra, may increase melanin synthesis, which may increase the development of melanoma. Prior published research has also tied the use of Viagra, sildenafil, and other PDE5A inhibitors with the proliferation of melanoma cell invasion, especially in people who carry a BRAF gene mutation, according to Medscape Multispecialty. Studies reveal that this mutation "down-regulates" levels of PDE5A; low PDE5A expression due to activation of BRAF or use of Viagra increases melanoma cell aggression, which increases potential Viagra skin cancer risks or melanoma.

Wen-Qing Li, PhD from the Department of Dermatology, Brigham and Women's Hospital, and Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, and colleagues conducted the prospective cohort study of participants in the Health Professionals' Follow-up Study (HPFS) between 2000 and 2010. Their research included data on 25,848 men in the United States and China, after excluding participants who reported cancers at baseline. The HPFS collects data concerning male healthcare workers, including doctors. For this study, the average man's age was 65 and 6 percent of the men had taken Viagra. Study participants were asked, in a 2000 biennial survey if they had been, or were, treated for ED. Participants reported diagnoses of melanoma, squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), and basal cell carcinoma (BCC) in the surveys since 1986. A follow-up was conducted in 2000 through 2010.

When considering Viagra melanoma risks, the study adjusted the analysis for a number of factors, including the amount of sunlight exposure the men may have experienced, age, body mass index, tobacco use, physical activity, and childhood sun reaction. Also considered were melanoma risk factors, including mole count, hair color, and family history for melanoma. The review did not involve other PDE5A inhibitors as they had not been approved when the cohort study was initiated. For example, the researchers noted that Levitra and Staxyn (vardenafil) and Cialis and Acirca (tadalafil) had not received FDA approval in 2000 when the study commenced.

The researchers also noted that the observed ties seen between Viagra (sildenafil) use and melanoma may be attributed, in part, to the later use of these ED medications among recent Viagra users. According to Ryan Sullivan, M.D., of Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, the association between Viagra and melanoma "does have a potential molecular basis." Dr. Sullivan also told MedPage Today that, "Sildenafil may promote tumor growth, at least in tumor cells."

The researchers concluded that, "Sildenafil use may be associated with an increased risk of developing melanoma" and called for "continued investigation of this association" with Viagra. "Our study cannot prove cause and effect…. Nevertheless, our data provide epidemiological evidence on possible skin adverse effects of PDE5A inhibitors [the sildenafil drug class] and support continued investigation of this relationship." Dr. Sullivan noted that, should cause and effect be determined in future research, the effect on melanoma risk will likely apply to all drugs in the PDE5-inhibitor class, such as Cialis and Levitra.

Research on the relationship between Viagra and other PDE5 inhibitors is correlational, meaning it does not prove a causal association and that other factors may be at play. In commenting on this, dermatologist Dr. Brian Horvath pointed out that "It may be that people who take Viagra are more likely to be out in the sun or more active in some way," according to CBS Miami. "The problem with that idea, though, is that the other types of skin cancer risks were not increased. So if was just sun exposure, you'd expect all skin cancers would increase. In this situation, just the melanoma risk was increased."

In June 2015, JAMA published another study looking at the relationship between PDE5 inhibitors and the risk of melanoma. The study was conducted in light of the previous findings linking Viagra to an increased risk of melanoma. The authors pointed out that, "The target for the oral erectile dysfunction drugs, phosphodiesterase type 5 (PDE5) inhibitors, is part of a pathway implicated in the development of malignant melanoma."

The Swedish study used data from the Swedish Prescribed Drug Register, the Swedish Melanoma Register and other national databases to examine the link between PDE5 inhibitors and the risk of melanoma. The researchers identified 4,065 cases of melanoma diagnosed from 2006 through 2012. As a control, 5 cases were randomly selected for each case of melanoma with a matching birth year.

Among the total number of melanoma cases, 11 percent (435 men) had filled prescriptions for PDE5 inhibitors; 8 percent of 20,325 control cases (1,713 men) also filled prescriptions. A multivariable analysis revealed that taking these erectile dysfunction medications was associated with a higher risk of melanoma. Researchers found that men who filled a single prescription had the most pronounced risk, while the risk for men who filled multiple prescriptions was not significant. There was a statistically significant link between PDE5 inhibitors and melanoma stage 0 and stage 1, but not stages II through IV. Use of these drugs was also associated with an increased risk of basal cell carcinoma. The authors concluded "In a Swedish cohort of men, the use of PDE5 inhibitors was associated with a modest but statistically significant increased risk of malignant melanoma. However, the pattern of association (e.g., the lack of association with multiple filled prescriptions) raises questions about whether this association is causal."

Other Viagra Side Effects

Known Viagra side effects include heartburn, nausea, and headaches. Men who suffer from angina or very high blood pressure should not take the medication.

Viagra has also been associated with reports of sudden hearing loss, as well as nonarteritic ischemic optic neuropathy (NAION), a type of eye disorder that may lead to permanent vision loss. Viagra has also long been associated with short-term color changes in vision that cause objects to appear green or blue.

Parker | Waichman Logo Legal Help For Victims Affected By Viagra
If you or a loved one took Viagra and suffered skin cancer side effects, please fill out the form at the right for a free case evaluation by a qualified drug side effects attorney or call us, anytime, at
1-800-YOURLAWYER
(1-800-968-7529) today.




 

Viagra Use May Lead To MelanomaRSS Feed

Viagra MDL Proceeding Lawsuits Expected to Increase

Oct 11, 2016
Some developments have been made in the federal multidistrict litigation (MDL) concerning the erectile dysfunction (ED) medication Viagra (sildenafil citrate), including updating the judge on the individual cases filed, to date. Viagra was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for ED in 1998. Allegations include that Viagra's use is associated with increased risks of patients developing melanoma. Melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer. According to a prior The...

Pfizer's Viagra Facing Serious Allegations of Link to Cancer Risk

Sep 13, 2016
Since its approval in 1998 by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Viagra has been the most visible and popular treatment for erectile dysfunction for men worldwide, bringing in billions of dollars in revenue for its manufacturer Pfizer Inc. However, consumers in a California multidistrict litigation (MDL) have accused the pharmaceutical conglomerate of vigorously marketing Viagra without admitting their knowledge of an increased risk of developing melanoma. The lawsuit alleges that...

Viagra User Files Suit over Melanoma

Nov 17, 2015
Recent studies have shown that men who take Viagra are at higher risk for developing melanoma, and a California man who developed melanoma has filed a lawsuit against Pfizer, the maker of Viagra (sildenafil). The lawsuit against Pfizer was filed in California federal court, Law360 reports. The suit claims that Pfizer failed to warn potential users of studies connecting the blockbuster erectile dysfunction drug to increased melanoma risk. The plaintiff in the suit claims he would never have...

Another Study Links Viagra to Increased Risk of Melanoma

Jul 21, 2015
The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) has published study looking at the link between phosphodiesterase type 5 (PDE5) inhibitors, which include erectile dysfunction drugs such as Viagra, and melanoma. The Swedish study was conducted after previous research found an increased risk of melanoma in Viagra users. The authors noted that "The target for the oral erectile dysfunction drugs, phosphodiesterase type 5 (PDE5) inhibitors, is part of a pathway implicated in the development...

Viagra Use Could Increase Skin Cancer Risk by 20 Percent

Jun 24, 2015
Men who use Viagra and similar drugs for erectile dysfunction could be at greater risk of developing skin cancer, according to a new study. A study of more than 4,000 men in Sweden found that those who were prescribed a single course of such drugs were one third more likely to develop a malignant melanoma. The risk was raised by 20 percent for men who had multiple prescriptions, the (U.K.) Telegraph reports. Though the risk is still small—a one in 25 chance of developing cancer compared...

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