Wednesday, 4 August 2010

A Blockbuster Drug

Our latest film on The Periodic Table of Videos deals with a chemical called Sildenafil citrate.

But most people probably know it better as Viagra.

We were lucky enough to obtain a pure sample of the "active ingredient" from the company which developed it.

It was a rare opportunity to see a raw version of a really famous drug (the well-known pills are blue, but pure Viagra is white!)

The drug has multiple medical uses, but Professor Poliakoff was mindful of our wide audience when discussing Viagra's best-known application.

One of the things we were keen to discuss was the "green chemistry" involved in making Viagra.

As outlined in the video above, it once required a large volume of solvent to produce a tiny sprinkle of the powder... However a new process has greatly reduced the amount needed.

Process chemist Peter Dunn, mentioned in the video, even won an award (pic below) for his work lowering the amount of solvent used.

Professor Poliakoff, himself an advocate of green chemistry, often sites Viagra as a shining example in this area.

Here's some extra interview footage not used in the main video which expands on some of the issues...

Of course making a video about Viagra is not without problems.

The main inconvenience is that many email filters block the word "Viagra".... Several emails between myself and Professor Poliakoff went missing while we were discussing the topic.

Regardless, it's a video we're pleased with because this is a real chemical success story and a true "blockbuster" molecule.


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