NEW YORK (Reuters) - The Wm. Wrigley Jr. Co. has patented a way to make its "Double Your Pleasure" slogan more potent: with chewing gum containing the active ingredient in Viagra.
But with about eight years left on Pfizer Inc.'s own patent for Viagra, the maker of Double-Mint and Juicy Fruit gum has no immediate plans to market such a product itself.
"There's been no development activity whatsoever nor is any anticipated at present," Christopher Perille, a Wrigley spokesman, said on Friday. He did not rule out the possibility that Chicago-based Wrigley might reconsider that decision in about eight years, when Pfizer's Viagra patent runs out.
The patent application, filed in November 2000, was simply one of many patents that Wrigley routinely seeks for products that might eventually be a hit with consumers, Perille said.
"We file dozens of patents on an annual basis with interesting or intriguing concepts," he 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 commercialization."
According to Wrigley's patent application, the gum formulation is effective when it is chewed for at least two minutes. The gum would contain 5 milligrams to 100 milligrams of the active ingredient, sildenafil citrate.
The gum would have to be chewed at least 30 minutes before sex, also similar to the Viagra time parameters.
The application also suggests that gum might be a better vehicle to deliver the drug to the bloodstream, since it releases the drug more gradually than Viagra's pill form, which has caused gastrointestinal problems for some men.
Pfizer's patent on Viagra, a tremendously successful drug hawked by the likes of former presidential candidate Bob Dole and various athletes, doesn't expire until 2011. Wrigley could not sell its gum until after that point, when generic versions of the drug can be also marketed.
Pfizer currently has no plans to repackage Viagra in any other way, a company spokesman said. When the world's top drug maker was developing Viagra, executives considered selling it as lozenges or in other forms, but the company decided on the now-famous blue pill.