Pfizer Leads Erectile Dysfunction Market As Viagra Sales Dip

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viagra pill

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Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer is leading the erectile dysfunction market even as generic competition erodes sales of its once-successful male libido treatment, Viagra.

The drug, originally developed for the purpose of treating high blood pressure in adults, became a hit with struggling men in the bedroom and the New York-based drug maker when it was introduced on the US market in 1998. During its first quarter, Viagra brought in a total of $ 400 million in revenue for Pfizer and would later produce annual sales of around $ 1.8 billion.

According to the Cleveland Clinic, about 1 in 10 men are affected by erectile dysfunction, or ED. Viagra was the first non-invasive treatment for male impotence and opened up a never-before-seen dialogue between men and their doctors about sexual health.

Almost 21 years later, sales of the brand name drug have plummeted. Pfizer lost the exclusive rights to the drug in December 2017, causing a flood of generic versions. Sales of the “little blue pill” in the United States were down 73% year-on-year in 2018, from $ 789 million to $ 217 million, Pfizer said in its fourth quarter earnings report. that generics were entering the market.

A strategy

Despite competition from generics from other drug makers, Pfizer was able to maintain a significant market share thanks, in part, to the launch of its own generic version of the blue diamond-shaped pill.

In late 2017, Pfizer announced that it would produce a generic version, called sildenafil, at half the brand’s price. The company also said at the time that it would offer new rebate programs and increase its co-payment card rebates to make the brand’s version more accessible to patients.

According to GoodRx, 65% of emergency room prescriptions filled between December 1, 2018 and January 31, 2019 were for Viagra or its generic version. Thirty percent of the prescriptions were for rival Cialis and its generic, tadalafil. Levitra and generic vardenafil came in third with 5% of the market.

In addition, the gap between prescriptions filled for brand-name drugs and generics is significant. Ninety percent of prescriptions filled in that same two-month period were for the generic version of Pfizer, while only 10 percent prescribed were for the brand name, according to GoodRx.

“Data can’t explain why people take the generic over the brand, or vice versa,” said Tori Marsh, data and content manager at GoodRx. “But since generic Viagra is more affordable than the brand name, cost is likely to be a factor here.”

Marsh added that most health insurers require members to be prescribed a generic when one is available, and that pharmacies dispense the generic.

Take it online

The rise of health tech start-ups, which allow patients to bypass their doctors and buy drugs online, may also build patient loyalty to the brand-name drug.

For example, Roman, the direct-to-consumer men’s health brand, is cutting out middlemen like pharmacies and allowing customers to buy erectile dysfunction drugs online.

Pfizer also allows customers to purchase Viagra from its website.

The proliferation of virtual platforms could lead to an increase in online drug purchases, said Dr. Anupam B. Jena, economist and physician at Harvard Medical School. “It’s interesting in that it drastically reduces the stigma associated with buying a prescription.”

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