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Impotence cream on the horizon?
New Jersey company's Alprox-TD in late-stage testing, could challenge pills.
August 11, 2005: 12:44 PM EDT
By Aaron Smith, CNN/Money staff writer

NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - Since Pfizer launched Viagra back in 1999, patients have gotten used to the idea of popping pills to make impotence go away. But what would they think of a skin cream that treats erectile dysfunction?

NexMed (Research), a small company based in Robbinsville, N.J., is conducting late-stage tests on Alprox-TD, a cream that restores blood circulation for men who have trouble getting erections. Alprox-TD comes in a tube and is applied into the penis, as demonstrated in a graphic on NexMed's Web site.

Ken Anderson, vice president of commercial development for NexMed, said the drug is applied 10-15 minutes before having sex and it has no serious side effects. Anderson said Alprox-TD uses a more effective mode of delivery than impotence-treating pills, because it is applied directly to the genitals, rather than through the stomach.

"There is more of a local effect with Alprox-TD than with the oral products," said Anderson. "We're delivering all of the drugs into the penis."

Alprox-TD has completed one set of clinical trials and the drug is in late-stage testing with a second set. NexMed plans to submit it to the Food and Drug Administration in the first quarter of 2007, Anderson said. If the FDA approves the drug, it could enter the U.S. market as early as 2008.

Anderson said the drug Alprox-TD has been available in China for two years and, even though revenues are "very small," patients have been satisfied with the drug.

"We've learned that patients who actually receive and use the drug like it and continue to purchase it," said Anderson.

The company is also testing a similar product called FemProx for women who suffer from female sexual arousal disorder, though the clinical tests are not as advanced as in Alprox-TD.

The market for erectile dysfunction treatment is currently dominated by three pills: Viagra from Pfizer (down $0.13 to $26.26, Research), Levitra from Schering-Plough (Research) and Cialis from Eli Lilly & Co (up $0.06 to $53.58, Research). Viagra is the top seller, with $1.7 billion in 2004 sales.

Anthony Butler, analyst for Lehman Brothers, said he was unfamiliar with Alprox-TD. But he said the market for ED drugs, which is currently approaching $3 billion, has the potential for growth as baby boomers get older and develop health problems.

However, the ED market is taking a dive this year. According to Michael Krensavage, analyst for Raymond James, total prescription volume for Viagra, Levitra and Cialis has dropped 8 percent this year.

Anderson said the ED market would be rejuvenated by a new drug. "There's still a very large market opportunity," said Anderson, noting that only 30 percent of the estimated 31 million men with impotence problems in the U.S. are being treated.

Butler owns stock in Schering-Plough. Aside from that, the analysts do not own stock in the companies mentioned here.  Top of page


NexMed Incorporated
Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
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