Hundreds of lawsuits have been filed by men with melanoma who used sildenafil, the active ingredient in Revatio and Viagra. In 2014, Harvard researchers found an 84% increased risk of skin cancer.
What is Revatio?
Revatio (sildenafil) is a medication that treats pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH), a condition that causes high blood pressure in the lungs. Revatio is manufactured by Pfizer Inc. It was approved in the United States for adults with PAH in June 2005.
How Does Revatio Work?
Revatio works by blocking an enzyme called PDE5 (phosphodiesterase type-5). This relaxes smooth muscles lining blood vessels, which reduces blood pressure and makes it easier for blood to flow into the lungs.
What is the problem?
About 50% of aggressive melanoma skin cancers have a genetic mutation that blocks PDE5. Revatio and other medications that block PDE5 may also increase the aggressiveness of melanoma. The FDA opened an investigation into the risk of skin melanomas from Revatio in 2016.
Blocking PDE5 May Worsen Melanoma
In 2011, a study found that blocking PDE5 made melanoma more likely to spread. The researchers observed a “dramatic increase in melanoma cell invasion.” In 2012, another study found that blocking PDE5 stimulated the synthesis of melanin, which is the fuel that drives melanoma.
Revatio Linked to 84% Increased Risk of Melanoma
In 2014, sildenafil, the active ingredient in Revatio, was linked to an 84% increased risk of melanoma in a study by researchers at Harvard. The conclusions were based on data from over 25,000 men, including about 3,750 who developed skin cancer.
Other Studies Linking Sildneafil and Skin Cancer
Two other studies have linked sildenafil with higher rates of melanoma. One study was published in 2016 and found a 14% increased risk of melanoma. Another study in 2015 that found a 21% increased risk of melanoma from sildenafil.
What is Melanoma?
Melanoma is the most serious type of skin cancer. It is caused by the uncontrollable growth of melanocytes, which are the pigment-producing cells in the skin.
Symptoms of Melanoma
Melanoma can start anywhere on the body. In the early stages, it may look like a mole, which is a non-cancerous skin tumor. It can be hard to tell the difference between a harmless mole and deadly melanoma.
Here are some warning signs that your mole may actually be melanoma:
- Asymmetrical shape
- Uneven border
- Multiple colors
- Larger than a pencil eraser (1/4 inch)
- Changes over time
- Looks and feels different from other moles
- Bleeding or crusting
- Pain or tenderness