Just in time to rescue his self-image, Reidy was selected for the V-team. The drug was introduced at a urology conference in San Diego in 1998. Pfizer had the biggest booth in the hall, and it was mobbed. Reidy writes, "The urologists of America did none of the normal things American doctors typically did post-FDA approval. They didn't want to see studies showing Viagra's efficacy. They didn't want detailed safety data. They didn't even care whether the HMOs were covering it or not."
The doctors wanted to know what dose to prescribe, what the side effects were and whether it could be used by women. Suddenly, Reidy was selling a product that didn't need to be sold; doctors and patients were begging for it. "We were like rock stars," he says. "Doctors would invite us to their golf clubs and say, 'Next time the samples come out, don't forget about me.' "
Before Viagra, Reidy had been as generous with drug samples as his colleagues. Every one of his friends wanted to test drive the pill, but he was stingy with it. "God forbid my buddy takes one and drops dead. Then I'm going to jail and I have to explain to his mother how he died. If I hand out antihistamines, nothing bad is going to happen to anyone. Reps would say their parents had Viagra parties and each couple got to take some Viagra home. I never did anything like that."
After five years with Pfizer, Reidy quit and accepted a job as a rep in the oncology division of Eli Lilly. He advanced to training other reps, until his book came out. When Lilly fired him, Reidy suggested they develop a sense-of-humor pill.
Now he's living in Manhattan Beach, taking writing courses and hoping his book will be made into a movie. "My goal in moving to L.A. is allegedly to sell a romantic comedy screenplay," he says. "But it's also to live at the beach and have a great time."
A slacker's joie de vivre dies hard.