In the tiny village of Ringaskiddy on the southwestern coast of Ireland, the locals love to breathe in the factory air — deeply.
The Cork County town has long been the site for a Pfizer Inc. plant that manufactures Viagra, and that has given rise to rumors.
“One whiff and you’re stiff,” Debbie O’Grady recently told The Times of London, serving a pint with a grin at the Ferry Boat Inn.
“We’ve been getting the love fumes for years now for free,” said Debbie’s mother, Sadie, referring to the smoke emanating from one of the chimneys down the road.
Pfizer, which recently announced plans to begin selling the impotency drug over the counter in the United Kingdom and to cut prices in the U.S. with a new generic version, says this is an “amusing” myth, but there’s no truth to the stories of hard times.
“Pfizer manufacturing facilities operate to high environmental standards and are regulated and licensed by health authorities and environmental agencies which have strict protocols to ensure that emissions from manufacturing sites have no effect on human health or the environment,” the company told Fortune.
However, a psychiatric nurse named Fiona Toomey said that she had just returned to the village for the first time in five years and noticed that not just men, but even dogs, “walk around in a state of sexual excitement.”
“I think that Viagra must have got into the water supply,” she said.
“I’m convinced that’s what happened at the very beginning before they were so closely regulated.”
Rumors have swirled around the city as citizens speak of a baby boom after the factory’s 1998 opening. The company has repeatedly thrown cold water on those rumors.
Pfizer will begin selling the white pill at half the $65-a-pill retail price on Monday, when its patent-protected monopoly ends. Generic maker Teva Pharmaceuticals can start selling its version then, but isn’t disclosing the price.
Many more generics go on sale next summer, which will steadily slash the price of generics, possibly by 90 percent.
“Patients are paying fortunes. When generic Viagra comes out, they will be very happy,” said Nachum Katlowitz, a urologist at New York’s Staten Island University Hospital.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.