History of the Blue Pill: Origin and Cultural Impact

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History of the blue pill

Before the 1980s, doctors considered Erectile Dysfunction (ED) a trivial or psychological issue. 

Intracavernosal (at the base of the penis) injections were the only treatment option.

Those injections worked, but they had many drawbacks. These included local bleeding, bruising, and Priapism. 

Researchers and clinicians knew there was a need for an oral treatment for ED. However, only a few of them thought it was possible.

In 1989 the discovery of the Blue Pill, also known as Viagra, changed all this. It revolutionized ED treatment and impacted the lives of many men or Assigned Males at Birth (AMAB). 

Since its discovery, the Blue Pill (Viagra) has become the most prescribed oral medicine for Erectile Dysfunction (ED).

This article will discuss the exciting history of the Blue Pill, its origin, cultural impact, generic version, and usages beyond ED.

Origin of The Blue Pill

In the 1980s, Nitrates were the primary medicine for treating cardiovascular diseases. But, the main problem with Nitrate was that it became less effective with successive dosages.

Pfizer, a pharmaceutical company looking for an alternative, began testing another compound to treat Angina (a heart disease). This compound was initially named UK-92,480 and later renamed Sildenafil. 

During testing, they found that the duration of effects of Sildenafil was very short, only 4 to 6 hours. 

For the treatment of chronic Angina, the treatment has to be given three times per day. Sildenafil was also found to be contraindicated with other drugs used for treating cardiovascular disease. 

The Accidental Discovery

During the clinical trials, Sildenafil showed some side effects. One of the unexpected side effects was improved penile erection.

Sildenafil was selectively targeting the enzyme called Phosphodiesterase 5 (PDE5). This enzyme present in the penile blood vessels is responsible for breaking down cyclic Guanosine Monophosphate (cGMP).

cGMP is a molecule that relaxes the muscles during sexual stimulation, which improves blood flow to the penis. This helps men in getting and maintaining an erection.

The Pfizer team found that, unlike other treatments for ED, Sildenafil was not causing an artificial erection. Rather, it was just blocking the actions of PDE5 from destroying cGMP.

Since cGMP is only produced during sexual arousal, Sildenafil causes erection only if you are sexually aroused. This was better than other treatment options, which cause prolonged erections.

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  • The Birth of Viagra

    By 1997, Sildenafil had been tested on more than 4500 people to validate its efficacy and safety. 

    After trials, it was considered effective and safe but found to have the potential to cause minor side effects like headache, flushing, indigestion, etc.  

    In 1997, Pfizer submitted the registration of Viagra to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and European Medicines Evaluation Agency (EMEA). 

    Pfizer submitted the registration of Viagra to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and European Medicines Evaluation Agency (EMEA). 

    FDA approved Sildenafil for the treatment of ED in March 1998 and EMEA in September 1998.

    After the approval, Pfizer named it Vigara because “it expresses vim, vigor, and vitality.” It was given the blue color as it represents masculinity, calmness, and reliability. 

    Pfizer patented the name Vigara, the drug Sildenafil and the distinctive blue color of the pill.

    Within a few weeks of its approval, more than 1 million patients received prescriptions for Viagra. 

    Due to its popularity and distinctive blue color, it got the nickname “The Blue Pill” or “The Little Blue Pill.”

    The Blue Pill’s Cultural Impact

    Viagra pill (diamond-shaped, blue color)Source: clubfoto_from_Getty_Images
    Viagra pill (diamond-shaped, blue color)

    The Blue Pill (Viagra) had a profound cultural impact since its approval. It sparked conversation and challenged taboos.

    The Blue Pill removed the stigma surrounding Erectile Dysfunction (ED). Before the Blue Pill’s availability, ED was a taboo subject, surrounded by silence, shame, and misinformation. Men with ED often suffered in silence, feeling emasculated and burdened.

    The Blue Pill brought the issue of ED into the spotlight. It prompted public discussions and normalized conversations about sexual health. It provided a solution and gave men the confidence to seek medical help.

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    The Emergence of The Generic Version of Viagra

    After Pfizer’s patent on Sildenafil expired, other pharma companies started to produce their version of the medicine. 

    The generic version of The Blue Pill (Viagra) has the same active ingredients Sildenafil Citrate. They are equally safe and effective as the branded Blue Pill (Viagra).

    The availability of generic Viagra has increased competition in the market, leading to lower prices.

    The generic version is more affordable than the Blue Pill. The generic version costs only $ 0.72 for a single 50mg pill.

    A generic medication undergoes rigorous approval to ensure its safety, quality, and effectiveness. Regulatory authorities carefully evaluate generic versions to ensure they meet the same standards as the brand-name medication.

    Evolution of the Blue Pill Beyond ED

    Over the years, the Blue Pill (Viagra) has shown promise in the treatment of other diseases. 

    In 2005, the FDA approved the Blue Pill’s chemical ingredient, i.e., Sildenafil, for treating Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension (PAH). PAH is characterized by very high blood pressure in the lung’s arteries.

    Short-term treatment with the Blue Pill can also reduce altitude sickness

    A study found the Blue Pill (Sildenafil) effective for treating Raynaud’s phenomenon. It is a condition in which some parts of the body feel numb.

    Another research found that people taking the Blue Pill (Sildenafil) were 69% less likely to develop Alzheimer’s disease. But the researchers note that it does not prevent or reverse AD. 

    The combined therapy of the Blue Pill and Bosentan also improved Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD).

    Although the Blue Pill is not approved for women, doctors prescribe it to treat Female Sexual Dysfunction.

    Even though the Blue Pill has shown promise in other diseases, please don’t use it for self-treatment. No matter the disease, the Blue Pill should always be used with a doctor’s consultation.


    The Blue PIll, also known as Viagra, has changed the lives of many men. 

    It was discovered by Pfizer scientists when searching for a drug to treat Angina. 

    In clinical trials, researchers found it was better for treating Erectile Dysfunction (ED) in men. 

    In 1998 FDA approved the Blue Pill (Viagra) for treating Erectile Dysfunction. 

    After approval, Pfizer marketed it under the brand name Viagra. Viagra had a distinctive blue color, due to which it got its nickname “the little blue pill”  or “the blue pill.”

    After the Pfizer patent expired, other pharma companies started selling generic versions of the Blue Pill. 

    Other than treating ED, the active ingredient in the Blue Pill is also used for treating other diseases. These include Pulmonary Hypertension, Female Sexual Dysfunction, etc.

    The remarkable history of the blue pill showcases its journey from a pharmaceutical breakthrough to an icon of hope and confidence for men worldwide.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    Can Viagra (the Blue Pill) be used for conditions other than Erectile Dysfunction?

    The Blue Pill has shown potential benefits in conditions such as Pulmonary Hypertension, altitude sickness, Raynaud’s phenomenon, and peripheral arterial disease. However, consulting with a healthcare professional for appropriate diagnosis and guidance is essential.

    How does Viagra work in treating Pulmonary Hypertension?

    The Blue Pill, or its active ingredient, Sildenafil, helps relax and widen the blood vessels. This relaxation leads to improved blood flow. Pulmonary Hypertension can reduce pulmonary arterial pressure, improving exercise capacity and symptoms.

    Is Viagra approved for the treatment of Pulmonary Hypertension?

    Yes, Sildenafil, the active ingredient in the Blue Pill, has been approved for specific forms of Pulmonary Hypertension. However, the specific dosages and treatment regimens may differ from those for Erectile Dysfunction.

    Can I use the Blue Pill without Erectile Dysfunction for performance enhancement?

    The Blue Pill should only be used under medical supervision and as prescribed. It is not intended for use by individuals without Erectile Dysfunction. It has adverse effects and interactions with other medications.

    Is the Blue Pill addictive?

    No, the Blue Pill (Viagra) is not addictive. It is a prescription medication for treating Erectile Dysfunction or other approved conditions. It does not create a physical dependency.

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