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Alprox-TD (alprostadil), manufactured by NexMed, has been proven safe and effective for the treatment of erectile dysfunction (ED), according to 2 large studies. More than 1700 men with ED were randomized to receive 100 to 300 mcg of alprostadil cream or placebo cream. Erectile function scores increased by an average of 1.6 to 2.5 points over the baseline for those in the alprostadil group and decreased by 0.7 points for patients in the placebo group. Scores for vaginal penetration and maintenance of erection until ejaculation also improved "slightly but significantly." According to researchers, 52% of patients using 300 mcg of alprostadil cream said their erections improved, compared with 20% of placebo patients. Researchers also noted that study participants included men with diabetes, men who had their prostates removed, men taking nitrates or β-blockers, and men who did not have success while taking Viagra (sildenafil). The average age of the study participants was 60 years. Previously, alprostadil was injected directly into a patient's penis, but this administration was reported to be cumbersome and uncomfortable. The topical cream is enhanced with skin-penetrating properties and is applied directly to the penis; the most frequently reported side effects were burning and redness at the application site. Results of the study were published in the August 2006 issue of Urology.
Ms. Farley is a freelance medical writer based in Wakefield, RI.