AT A GLANCE: Pfizer dismisses reputation challenge to Viagra

What has happened? A piece in The Observer last Sunday said that researchers suggest Pfizer's erectile dysfunction brand - the famous little blue pill Viagra, which helps boost men's sex drive - could actually have an adverse effect on male fertility.

Beattie Communications and Chandler Chicco Agency handle UK work for the brand, while Edelman has the pan-European brief.

SO THIS IS A REPUTATION CHALLENGE TO VIAGRA?
Queen's University researcher Dr David Glenn, a consultant gynaecologist who has researched the effect of Viagra on fertility, is quoted in the piece. He said young men who use Viagra recreationally could be impairing their fertility, and clinics that prescribe Viagra to help men produce sperm for IVF treatments could be making conception more difficult in some cases.

HOW HAS PFIZER REACTED?
Its line to journalists is that this is old news. In a statement, Pfizer said: 'While we have not had the opportunity to review this particular study, extensive tests in humans have found no evidence that Viagra adversely affects fertility rates.'

WHAT ELSE DOES THE COMPANY SAY?
That two studies showed no impact by Viagra on sperm function and less than 0.001 per cent of the administered dose may appear in the semen of patients. Pfizer also emphasised Viagra has been used by nearly 30 million men worldwide since launch.

SO IS THIS OLD NEWS?
Glenn is well known in the field, winning an award in 2004 for his work on how Viagra affects the sperm function in vitro. Queen's University press office put Glenn in touch with The Observer last week.

The paper's science editor Robin McKie wrote a feature on Sunday to mark the tenth anniversary of Viagra's launch in the US: 'Ten years on: it's time to count the cost of the Viagra revolution', in which he interviewed Glenn. McKie also spun off a news story highlighting Glenn's comments in the same issue. The Daily Mail and The Daily Telegraph were among those that picked up the story on Monday.

SURELY VIAGRA IS BIG ENOUGH TO COPE?
You would think so. In terms of brand recognition, Viagra is a staggering success story. The Observer article mentions that in Google searches, Viagra throws up more articles than other apparently ubiquitous names such as Botox or Prozac.

Further information www.viagra.com

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