August 13, 2022

Generic Viagra is flooding the market. This is how Pfizer reacts

Until Viagra made its debut in the late 90s, treatment options for erectile dysfunction were limited.

“The thing that made Viagra so wonderful was the only thing before it was a drug called Caverject,” said former Pfizer lawyer Kent Bernard. “Caverject was supposed to be injected into your penis about half an hour before you wanted to have sex. You wouldn’t want to come within a mile of using this product, ”he said.

Viagra, originally designed to treat high blood pressure, was a medical breakthrough and became an overnight success. The drug has grossed more than $ 25 billion, according to market research firm Statista. Sixty-two million men around the world have taken the drug since its launch in 1998.

But the sun has set on those high flying days. Last month, the FDA approved five versions of the generic sildenafil. Prices are plummeting, with a pill going anywhere from $ 30 to 60 cents, according to analytics firm Elsevier.

As more generics hit the market, Pfizer clearly hopes to continue using its “little blue pill” for as long as possible. This includes the time-honored strategy of launching its own credits.

Pfizer “sees the generics coming and says, ‘I can do this.’ And they’re getting into the generics business themselves, ”said Scott Hemphill, NYU law professor.

Believing that some consumers will always prefer the branded product, Pfizer also increased the list price of its branded Viagra on July 1. It was one of 40 price hikes that Pfizer delayed this week after President Donald Trump criticized the company.

Pfizer’s market share is rapidly eroding, but it has managed to retain 15%, said Tori Marsh of consumer website GoodRx.

“It’s kind of a testament to Pfizer’s success with this huge Viagra marketing and branding, and it’s been a huge success,” Marsh said.

Pfizer put erectile dysfunction on the map, with the help of memorable ads like the one featuring former Republican Senator from Kansas, Bob Dole. But the American Urological Association estimates that up to 30 million men are affected by erectile dysfunction, with some studies showing that about half of men over 40 have some degree of the disease. It’s a huge commercial market for generic drug manufacturers to tap into.

GoodRx’s Marsh said weekly prescriptions were already up 27% from 2017 figures, and she expects the generic drug maker to step up.

“As Viagra fillers go down and generic fillers go up, more and more companies are going to see that this is a good game,” she said.

This is the US generic drug market at its best, with many inexpensive options for consumers.

“We can easily get generic versions of sildenafil mainly at wholesale pharmacies like Costco, at $ 4 for 20 milligrams,” said Ben Davies, urologist at the University of Pittsburgh. “Patients usually go over there and cook their steak and their Viagra and make it a day.”

More generic versions of erectile dysfunction drugs are expected to hit the market soon. Eli Lilly’s drug Cialis, which has a slightly larger market share than Viagra, is set to lose patent protections this fall.


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