Q. I just heard about a newly released drug equivalent to Viagra. It is pronounced something like ‘Syallis’ but I don’t know how to spell it. Have you heard about it yet?
A. There are two new pills that have recently been approved in Europe for erectile dysfunction. The medication you are referring to is called Cialis (tadalafil), marketed by a corporate partnership of Eli Lilly and Icos. A similar medication called Levitra (vardenafil) is being sold by a different partnership, Bayer and GlaxoSmithKline.
Both drugs work in a manner similar to Viagra and are roughly comparable in effectiveness. Levitra seems to have a somewhat faster onset (roughly 15 minutes, compared to about half an hour for Viagra). Levitra can work for up to 16 hours, whereas Cialis persists longer (up to 36 hours). The benefits of Viagra last from 4 to 12 hours.
Headache, heartburn and flushing are possible side effects of all three drugs. It may be several more months before these new drugs are approved and go on sale in the U.S.
Q. You recently wrote about flu medicine but you didn’t say much about side effects. Five years ago I took Flumadine for the flu. Within two days I began to experience visual and tactile hallucinations, but I didn’t realize that’s what they were. By the fourth day I was so psychotic I began to consider how I could commit suicide.
I called my doctor’s office to report how bad I felt, but no one ever returned my call. The next day, I called 911 because I felt compelled to kill myself. I was admitted to a mental health facility with a diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder. Please be aware that Flumadine can cause serious psychological side effects.
A. The influenza drugs amantadine (Symmetrel) and rimantadine (Flumadine) can both cause depression and hallucinations. Although such complications are rare, people need to be forewarned. We are dismayed that your physician did not respond to your call. Hallucinations have not been reported with newer flu medicines such as Tamiflu and Relenza.
Q. I have ugly, thick yellow toenails. Clipping them is difficult. My doctor has said they are infected with fungus but he doesn’t want me to take Sporanox because it could interact with other medicine.
I have tried every remedy, including Vicks VapoRub, and none has worked. The podiatrist wants to remove the nails surgically, which makes me nervous. I know you have written about urea paste to dissolve away the infected nail, but I haven’t been able to find any. Where do I get it and how do I use it?
A. Surgical removal of nails can be painful and lead to infection. Stanford dermatologist Eugene Farber discovered the urea treatment many years ago while traveling in Russia. He wrote up the results of his research in the journal Cutis (Dec. 1978).
Urea (40 percent) is available only by prescription (Ureacin-40, Carmol 40, Gordon’s Urea 40). Treatment should be supervised by a physician.
We are sending you additional details along with other ways to foil fungus in our Guide to Hair and Nail Care. Anyone who would like a copy, please send $2 in check or money order with a long (no. 10) stamped (60 cents), self-addressed envelope: Graedons’ People’s Pharmacy, No. H-31, P. O. Box 52027, Durham, NC 27717-2027.

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