Viagra is getting a cheaper, generic makeover from Pfizer in an effort to preempt competitors.Pfizer has repackaged its famous little blue impotence pill in a white tablet, called sildenafil, and will slash the$65-a-pill retail price of its blockbuster drug by half starting Monday.The pharmaceutical giant's patent for Viagra is set to expire next week, opening the flood gates for competitors to jump into the market with their cheaper generic versions.Rather than lose most of its sales to other companies, Pfizer is banking on the lower price point of and the 40 percent of its customer base that claims to be loyal to Viagra to help the company ride the wave of generics slated to undercut Viagra's prices by as much as 90 percent.'Patients are paying fortunes. When generic Viagra comes out, they will be very happy,' said Dr Nachum Katlowitz, a urologist at New York's Staten Island University Hospital.Launched in 1998, Viagra was the first pill for impotence. It transformed a private frustration for many aging men into a publicly discussed medical condition with an easy treatment, far more appealing than options like penile injections and implants. Pfizer's early TV ads for the little blue pill even coined the term erectile dysfunction, ED for short.Eli Lilly's Cialis came out in 2003 and now dominates the U.S. market with on-demand pills and daily, low-dose ones. Viagra is a close second.Pfizer says its market research shows 20 percent of customers are loyal to Viagra. So rather than give up sales to generic makers as brand-name drug makers once routinely did, the company is selling its own generic and also fighting to keep men on its blue pills.'We believe that the story for Viagra isn't done. It's just going to be a new chapter,' said Jim Sage, president of U.S. brands for Pfizer Essential Health, which sells its older medicines.In January, the drug maker will offer two new discount programs and increase its co-payment card discounts. Uninsured men can get brand-name Viagra half off through an innovative online home delivery program, Pfizer Direct. Many insured patients will be able to get a month's prescription - typically six to 10 pills, depending on plan limits - for as little as a $20 co-payment.'This is the most comprehensive pricing and marketing response I've seen to a generic,' said Erik Gordon, a pharmaceuticals analyst at the University of Michigan's business school. 'It's unprecedented.'Gordon thinks Pfizer's reduced prices will retain some patients and attract others who buy pills, often counterfeits, from the internet.Dr. Matthias Hofer, a urologist at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago, said some of his insured patients who take Viagra wouldn't want a generic. 'They will be ecstatic if they can save money and get the brand product from Pfizer,' he said.Last year, more than 12 million prescriptions for Viagra and Cialis were filled in the US, generating a combined $3 billion in sales, according to health data and clinical resea
The class of drugs that Levitra, Viagra, Stendra, and Cialis belong to are called PDE5 inhibitors. They work by relaxing tight blood vessels, allowing more blood to surge into the penis and cause an erection, says Gregory Bales, M.D., an associate professor of urology at the University of Chicago.
The little pills do the trick for more than two-thirds of men with Viagra protects the heart (ED). They also work for guys who simply need them for a short time to get their “confidence back,” says Michael Eisenberg, M.D., director of male reproductive medicine and surgery at Stanford University.