New drug may help alleviate male sexual dysfunction

by Maisha Downey

An embarrassing bedroom rendezvous could be a thing of the past for many men (and their significant others) thanks to a new premature ejaculation drug.

A study released Thursday in The Lancet medical journal gives hope to men suffering from the most common sexual dysfunction, after an experimental drug showed improvements for test patients.

Dr. Jon Pryor, University professor of urologic surgery and lead author of the study, said premature ejaculation affects between 21 percent and 33 percent of men.

“The effects go beyond the bedroom,” he said. “It affects their self-esteem, their confidence – it can be a really big deal for them.”

The study consisted of 2,614 men suffering from moderate to severe premature ejaculation. This means that before the study, the subjects ejaculated less than two minutes after penetration 75 percent of the time.

The men in the study were given 30 or 60 milligrams of the drug dapoxetine, a short-acting antidepressant that is said to work if taken one to three hours before intercourse.

Results showed the men who took dapoxetine increased the length of intercourse from less than one minute to three minutes.

In the past, Paxil and Prozac, drugs commonly used to treat depression, have also been used to treat premature ejaculation. Patients with the disorder received the same doses of Paxil and Prozac as patients with clinical depression.

For dapoxetine, nausea was the most commonly reported adverse effect, which occasionally led to headache.

Pryor said dapoxetine is different than other antidepressants because it has peak blood levels within an hour and 95 percent of the drug leaves the bloodstream within 24 hours.

“It would be bad as an antidepressant because it’s not in the bloodstream long enough, but it’s perfect for premature ejaculation because it gets quickly in the body and quickly out,” he said.

Pryor said those taking dapoxetine experienced a three- to four-fold increase in duration of intercourse.

Chemical engineering junior Alex Samuel said he thought drugs like dapoxetine are important for men struggling with the dysfunction.

“That part of a relationship, being intimate with your partner, is very important, so you should do whatever helps,” he said.

Whether or not dapoxetine is approved by the FDA, Pryor said he is confident a solution is in the near future.

“The beauty of this study is it shows there is something short-acting that will work, and at some point, something will get approved like this,” he said.

Journalism professor Gary Schwitzer, who specializes in medical ethics, said he still has some concerns about the drug.

“If you give someone a drug, whether or not it works, and suggest it might work and have them time themselves, the power of the mind might suggest that it does work,” he said.

Schwitzer also said he wonders about possible side effects of dapoxetine.

“With every med you take there is some sort of harm,” he said. “There better be really good data to back up a med like this.”

Math senior Michael Anthony said he wouldn’t take the drug.

“Who knows the kind of side effects (it has),” he said. “But whatever, I don’t need it.”

Still, Pryor supports the new drug.

“I’m a physician who sees these patients and how they suffer,” Pryor said. “I feel for them. It affects their lives. I want there to be a good treatment.”

Pryor said his biggest hope is discussion and communication about premature ejaculation will gain attention just as erectile dysfunction did after the drug Viagra was approved by the FDA.

“For them to realize that it is common, that they aren’t alone and that there is safety in numbers, I think it could be really helpful,” he said.