I was stripped naked and turned into a guinea pig with 250 Viagra, which I thought was angina medicine

Out of a job and struggling to put food on the table, Idris Price jumped at the chance to swallow a pill for 10 days straight, earning him $250. remuneration.

It was part of a 1992 “guinea pig” trial of a new drug to treat angina, but the Welsh man soon discovered he was suffering from a strange side effect – frequent and long-lasting erections.

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Idris Price, a Welshman who took part in the 1992 Pfizer trialCredit: BBC
Clinical trial taking place in Merthyr Tydfil, South Wales

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Clinical trial taking place in Merthyr Tydfil, South WalesImage source: Getty

The revelations shocked scientists, and soon Merthyr Tydfil in South Wales became the birthplace of a sexual revolution, with the birth of Viagra, a drug that would go on to help millions suffering from erectile dysfunction Handicapped men.

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the drug’s launch, and its incredible story is told in a new BBC Two documentary, Staying Alive: The Viagra Story, tonight at 9pm.

In the early 1990s, pharmaceutical giant Pfizer began trials of the drug (then known as UK92480), which was thought to relieve chest pain.

Meanwhile, Wells is experiencing one of its worst recessions, with more than 352,000 blue-collar workers laid off and desperate to feed their families.

“In the ’80s and ’90s, it was a very difficult time – you had to find a way to make whatever money you could,” Idris said.

“The factory I worked at was a steel plant and the equipment was very heavy, so you had to be very fit to do the job.

“I worked there for about eight years and then they fired me.

“If I’m short of money, I go to this place called Simbek.”

Simbec, a clinical research organization based in the UK, has a laboratory in Merthyr Tydfil, where hundreds of unemployed workers have turned up looking for easy money.

“I went down and said ‘I have a week off, can I do some research?'” I was very surprised when they said yes and they had courses, Idris said.

“I said ‘What does this mean,’ and they said, ‘You just take a pill.’

“They called us guinea pigs because you were testing a drug that had never been tested before.

“The worry is if I get sick, seriously sick, that’s what scares me.”

In the 80s and 90s, it was a very difficult time – you had to try and get any money you could

Idris Price

As part of the study, local volunteers were asked to take the drug three times a day for 10 days and were paid $250 (equivalent to more than $450 today).

Idris said: “[The money] Very important, those were the days when we had nothing and nothing.

“Obviously, you can use the money to get extra food, or you light a coal fire and you have five bags of coal instead of two.

“We haven’t been told anything about this drug. Doctors will say it’s for angina… You may get side effects, you may not. [But] It was a no-brainer and money came easy. “

Soon after, the patient began reporting unexpected erections.

light bulb moment

Viagra co-founder David Brown was shocked by initial side effects

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Viagra co-founder David Brown was shocked by initial side effectsCredit: BBC
Global pharmaceutical company Pfizer conducts impotence test to measure success of its product

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Global pharmaceutical company Pfizer conducts impotence test to measure success of its productImage source: Getty

Many people were reportedly nervous about revealing this unexpected side effect, according to the documentary.

“Volunteers started coming forward and saying, ‘This is a little embarrassing, but I noticed that I was having more erections than usual. It was much more difficult to have erections than usual,'” said Dr. Pete Ellis, Pfizer’s former head of discovery and development who was involved in the trial.

“They were both young people and I think it became a talking point among them.

“Gradually, more and more people began to report this erectile side effect.”

Viagra co-founder David Brown was shocked by the results and quickly launched an impotence study.

“That’s when the lightbulb went on and we said, ‘Hey, we’ve got something here,'” Brown added.

Monkey testicles ‘cure’

Attempts to treat impotence have been tested before. In the 1920s, a Russian surgeon named Serge Abrahamovitch Voronoff attempted to transplant monkey testicles into humans.

The theory is that part of the monkey’s testicles increases testosterone levels, thereby restoring potency and masculinity.

There was reportedly so much interest in the trials that the public considered buying an island to keep the monkeys.

In the late 20th century, the penis pump was invented, which creates a vacuum around the penis, increasing blood flow and causing an erection. However, the device also produced mixed results.

The volunteer started to come forward and said, “This is a little embarrassing, but I noticed that I have more erections than usual.” And the erections are much more difficult than usual.

Dr. Pete Ellis, former head of discovery and development at Pfizer

After the Simtec scandal came to light, Pfizer funded a broader study of impotence.

Patients with erectile dysfunction were tested at Southmead Hospital in Bristol, before further clinical trials were conducted in Swansea in 1994.

Trial leader and consultant endocrinologist David Price recalled the tests: “Pfizer said they had to be heterosexual men in a committed relationship.

“They were ordinary people, ordinary married, blue-collar Swansea men. The trial involved showing these men pornographic videos.”

A device was fitted to the men’s penis to monitor the effects of the drug, and the results came back positive.

Pfizer quickly realized they had a game-changing drug on their hands.

Idris recalls the trial as being quite difficult: “You couldn’t leave the building, you couldn’t go anywhere, and then at night we would relax.

“I was surprised when I found out about this. Viagra is a big thing right now. I was involved in the study and I’m delighted that this was found in Mercer Tydfield.”

The little blue pill that “saves your marriage”

Pfizer's Viagra pills are blue and diamond-shaped.

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Pfizer’s Viagra pills are blue and diamond-shaped.Image source: Getty

In 1998, Pfizer released the first batch of Viagra in New York, and orders surged.

As the “life-changing” drug surpasses its sales forecasts, a group of experts have joined forces to drive exponential growth.

Marketing executives designed the “simple pill” in a calming blue, with its diamond shape to suggest strength, and chose the name “Viagra” to sound like energy.

Pfizer’s marketing team even managed to meet with the Vatican to discuss how Viagra could save marriages.

Sex experts have since hailed the move as “like having a papal blessing” and that it transformed sex from being viewed as a “naughty time” to “saving the institution of marriage”.

Viagra was subsequently launched in the United States and the United Kingdom in 1998, becoming the first oral drug approved to treat erectile dysfunction.

Famous endorsements

Brazilian football legend Pele endorses Viagra

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Brazilian football legend Pele endorses ViagraImage source: AFP

In 2002, Viagra was endorsed by Brazilian football star Pele. After retiring, he told fans at Rio de Janeiro’s Maracanã stadium: “I’ll talk to your doctor.”

Pfizer’s weekly Viagra subscriptions grew rapidly from 500 to 36,000.

In 2008, it became the fastest-selling drug in history, with annual sales peaking at $1.6 billion.

The drug was so popular that it has reportedly become the most counterfeited drug of all time.

Dr. Irwin Goldstein, director of the San Diego Center for Sexual Medicine, agrees with the product’s success.

Goldstein added: “It created sexual medicine. It broke taboos.”

Keep up the good work: The Viagra Story airs tonight on BBC Two at 9pm.

Irving Goldstein says Viagra is revolutionary

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Irving Goldstein says Viagra is revolutionaryCredit: BBC
In 2008, Pfizer Viagra sales reached a peak of US$2 billion

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In 2008, Pfizer Viagra sales reached a peak of US$2 billionImage source: Getty


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