Viagra chewing gum is on the way

A new supercharged Wrigley's chewing gum may one day be on the market - containing the active ingredient in the sex-enhancing drug Viagra.

It emerged yesterday that the Chicago-based Wm Wrigley Jr Co, whose slogan is "Double Your Pleasure", has filed a patent to sell Viagra in gum form.

According to the application, gum would have to be chewed for a period of at least two minutes around half an hour before sex. Each stick would contain from 5mg to 100mg of Viagra's active ingredient, sildenafil citrate.

However the new chewing gum will not be available any time soon. Pfizer's patent on Viagra runs until 2011. Wrigley would only be able to enter the market after that date, when generic versions of the drug can also be marketed.

The patent application, filed in November 2000, was one of many that Wrigley routinely seeks for products that might eventually be a hit with consumers.

"We file dozens of patents every year with interesting or intriguing concepts," Christopher Perille, a Wrigley spokesman, said. "But there's a huge difference between filing for a patent and actually developing a product, and finding one that's exactly right for commercialisation."

The application suggests that Wrigley believes that chewing gum might be a better vehicle to deliver the drug to the bloodstream, as it would release the drug more gradually. The pills in which Viagra is now soldhave caused gastro-intestinal problems for some men.

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