OTC Solution for Erectile Dysfunction?

Up to 60% of men with erectile dysfunction who were not candidates for phosphodiesterase 5 (PDE5) inhibitors achieved erections in less than 10 minutes after a single application of a first-on-the-market nonprescription gel to the glans, a new study found. 

Dr Wayne Hellstrom

Wayne Hellstrom, MD, chief of andrology at Tulane School of Medicine in New Orleans, who presented the study of MED3000 [Eroxon] on May 5 at the 2024 annual meeting of the American Urological Association in San Antonio, Texas, said that the gel is considered to be a device by the US Food and Drug Administration. The agency approved the product in June 2023.

A spokesman for Futura, which makes MED3000, said that the gel will be on the market 2025. No price for the United States has been announced, but a four-pack of single-use tubes sells for the equivalent of roughly $31 in the United Kingdom.

Hellstrom, a former advisor to Futura, he said he expects MED3000 will be “a potential first-line therapy in addition to PDE5 inhibitors,” which are vasodilating drugs that stimulate the corpora cavernosa of the penis, facilitating erection with sexual stimulation.

He noted that PDE5s are contraindicated for many men; are not tolerated in others; are not completely effective; or work too slowly, taking 1-2 hours to work. As a result, up to 50% of patients cease using a PDE5 inhibitor within 1 year, he said. 

Futura said the gel contains a combination of volatile solvents which, when applied to the head of the penis, evaporate rapidly, stimulating nerve endings through an initial cooling effect followed by a warming sensation. This reaction releases nitric oxide, relaxing the smooth muscle tissue inside the penis and increasing blood flow that is needed to obtain an erection.

Hellstrom noted that MED3000 is noninvasive and causes no side effects and is slightly more effective if applied by a partner.

The new findings come from two studies of 250 men with erectile dysfunction (FM57) who used MED3000 over 12 weeks and a randomly assigned arm (FM71) with two groups of 48 men who used either MED3000 or 5 mg of tadalafil over 24 weeks.

Erections were achieved in less than 10 minutes in 60.1% of men in the FM57 group and 44.9% of those in the FM71 group.

Overall, less than 2% of the men who usedMED3000 and 4% of those who took tadalafil reported adverse effects. These events included headaches in 3% of the combined MED3000 group and 19.1% of the tadalafil group. Roughly 1% of men who used MED3000 reported penile burning sensation compared with none in the group taking tadalafil.

Problematic Design? 

Kevin McVary, MD, a professor of urology at Stritch School of Medicine of Loyola University, outside of Chicago, and director of the Center for Male Health, criticized the study design and added that he did not believe MED3000 had been proven beneficial.

“Are they expecting the Cialis 5 mg to work within 10 minutes? Because it doesn’t,” McVary said It doesn’t get absorbed into the bloodstream for about 2.5 hours.”

McVary said that men with erectile dysfunction will probably do anything to avoid seeing a physician about the condition, which could make MED3000 highly marketable.

However, he said, examinations would be important to detect unrecognized underlying cardiac disease, especially in younger men. “ED can function as the classic canary in a coal mine where it tells you who’s at risk for unexpected early death,” he said.

Hellstrom is a former advisor to Futura Medical Developments Inc. McVary reported no relevant financial conflicts of interest. Futura Medical Developments Inc funded the research. 

Howard Wolinsky is a Chicago-based medical writer.

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