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Adverse drug events

Erectile dysfunction drugs associated with increased melanoma risk

Phosphodiesterase type 5 (PDE5), the target of oral erectile dysfunction drugs such as sildenafil (Viagra), pictured, is part of a signalling pathway that is implicated in the development of malignant melanoma, according to researchers

Source: Sean Nel / Shutterstock.com

Use of erectile dysfunction drugs is associated with an increased risk of both melanoma and basal cell carcinoma

Phosphodiesterase type 5 (PDE5), the target of oral erectile dysfunction drugs, is part of a signalling pathway that is implicated in the development of malignant melanoma.

Now, a large Swedish population-based study, published in JAMA[1] (2015;313(24):2449–2455), has identified a modest but statistically significant increased risk of malignant melanoma in men who have used PDE5 inhibitors, with a multivariate-adjusted odds ratio of 1.21 (95% confidence interval 1.08–1.36) versus non-use.

The risk estimates were similar for three different PDE5 inhibitors and use of the drugs was also associated with an increased risk of basal cell carcinoma, which arises through a different pathway. The latter finding, together with other results — such as the lack of association with multiple filled prescriptions — prompt the authors to query whether the association is causal.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2015.20068847

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