Cialis was launched to rival the worldwide pharmaceutical phenomenon, Viagra, and it had a significant advantage. Cialis stays in the system for far longer than Viagra does, meaning that patients can take the drug daily to enhance their erections whenever they are naturally sexually stimulated. This means that Cialis is preferred by many patients who don’t like the inconvenience of having to ‘schedule’ sex when taking Viagra, which must be taken around an hour before sex, and the effects of which wear off on average after 2-3 hours. Cialis enables couples to be more spontaneous – a revolution for ED treatment – and took advantage of this fact in its early ad campaigns.

Below, we’ll explain the history behind Cialis, how it came to be, and why erectile dysfunction drugs have proven so popular in the modern world.

The History of Erectile Dysfunction & Past Treatments

ED is an issue that has affected a huge percentage of the male population since medieval times – meaning that thousands of weird and wonderful treatment methods have been tested in that timespan. A few of these include…

  • Literature dating back to 2500BC was found in China that detailed a potion concocted for helping the Emperor to sleep with 1,200 women and never lose potency.
  • Ancient Egyptians believed that ED was the result of a curse. Among their more unorthodox remedies was mashing up crocodile hearts and rubbing the mixture onto the penis. They did get one thing right, however: they used blue lotus flowers as an impotence cure, and we now know that the plant’s active ingredient apomorphine actually does contain properties that help ED.
  • Around 300BC, during the rise of aphrodisiacs in Greece, it’s said that the philosopher Aristotle identified an aphrodisiac ingredient in dried Spanish flies, a form of beetle. It was used as an ED remedy for centuries after. Nowadays, we know that Spanish flies are toxic.
  • Medieval Islamic pharmacists prescribed drugs and dietary changes for men suffering with ED. They also introduced the local application of drugs into the urethra (ouch), a common treatment method between the ninth and sixteenth centuries.
  • In the 1800s it was thought that injecting the extract of sheep testes into a man would give him a boost of testosterone and therefore cure his impotence. This method endured until the 1940s when testosterone was purified.
  • A man called Geddings Osbon invented the ‘YED’ (youth equivalence device) in 1960, which is a penis vacuum pump to help men gain an erection artificially – and it is still used today.
  • Surgeons began to insert inflatable implants into the penis in the 1970s. Improved versions of this treatment are still in use.

None of the above treatments had the same resounding success of Viagra, introduced to the pharmaceutical market in 1998 by Pfizer, which sold over USD $1billion in its first year. This is no surprise – who wouldn’t want to pop a small pill instead of some of the ghastly treatments listed above? The discovery of drugs as an ED quick-fix changed the world. Cialis was hot on Viagra’s heels, and today it is a very common alternative.

Cialis’ Timeline

In 2003, five years after Viagra was released, Cialis received its FDA (Food and Drug Administration) approval and was made available to the public. Below, we’ll detail how Cialis jumped between the hands of different pharmaceutical companies before its eventual release.

Cialis has followed in the footsteps of Viagra since its early days. In 1991, a partnership between Glaxo Wellcome, a British pharmaceutical company, and biotechnology firm ICOS, began in order to research new drugs. They began studying a PDE5 inhibitor, a drug used to block specific enzymes, as part of this research. It wasn’t until 1994, when Pfizer discovered that a different PDE5 inhibitor known as Sildenafil Citrate caused patients to get improved erections during clinical trials for heart medication, that ICOS and Glaxo turned their attention to their own drug as an ED treatment. Later that year, ICOS gained a patent for their compound, which worked in the same way as Sildenafil but was structurally different.

ICOS formed a new partnership with global pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly in 1998 after its deal with Glaxo fell through. The new joint venture, Lilly ICOS, LLC, continued to develop the drug for ED treatment uses. By now, it had a name – Tadalafil. That year, of course, Viagra was released, and the massive demand for fast-acting ED treatments became apparent.

It took a further few years in development for Tadalafil to go through clinical trials and gain the brand name Cialis. Lilly ICOS reported the results of its Cialis clinical trials to the American Urological Association in 2002, where it showed that the drug was effective for 36 hours – significantly outperforming Viagra. (For this reason, it’s earned the nickname ‘the weekend pill’. Men who take the drug on a Friday evening can reasonably expect to still enjoy the effects of the drug on Sunday morning.)

Cialis finally got FDA approval in 2003. Its long-lasting effects are favoured by many patients, although Viagra still maintains its popularity as one of the world’s most famous drugs ahead of its competitors.

Cialis’ generic form, Tadalafil, was approved by the FDA in 2011 to be used in the treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia, a condition in men whereby the prostate gland becomes enlarged and causes unpleasant symptoms. The drug is also approved for use where a man suffers from both ED and BPH.

Marketing & Advertisements

To set it apart from Viagra and Levitra, Cialis’ marketers focused on its long lifespan and brought women into its ad campaigns. New York Times writer Stuart Elliot said that the presence of women in the ads sent the message that they could set the pace of intimacy with this drug, as the man would be ‘ready to go’ at any time. This is in contrast to the other treatments where the man was in charge, as he would choose to take the drug with short-term effects which left a limited window for sexual activity. Both Levitra and Viagra adverts used very male-centred imagery, too.

Famous Cialis adverts feature couples sitting in bathtubs, with slogans alluding to ‘being ready when the time is right’. One of the first ever advertisements for the drug ran at the 2004 Super Bowl, which drew some controversy. However, the ad’s thunder was somewhat stolen by the infamous Janet Jackson and Justin Timberlake ‘wardrobe malfunction’ scenario.

Due to the increased competition in the ED drug market in the year following Cialis’ and Levitra’s release, it’s estimated that the three parent drug companies Pfizer, Lilly ICOS and GlaxoKlineSmith spent a total of $373.1million between them advertising the drugs in 2004.