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    Generic Viagra Could Save Patients Millions

    The introduction of two generic versions Viagra (sildenafil citrate) could save patients with erectile dysfunction (ED) and the U.S. health-care system millions of dollars.

    Pfizer and Teva Pharmaceuticals are both launching generics of Viagra, which is expected to produce around $1.4 billion in sales in 2016, according to IQVIA (formerly Quintiles IMS). Pfizer, the maker of branded Viagra, and Teva said the price on their generic version would be around half that of the brand, which costs $65 per pill.

    The generic launch will mean significant savings for patients; Viagra has been used by more than 62 million men, according to John Santilli, President of Access Market Intelligence. “Making a generic version of the pill will allow even more men who have not been able to afford it to try the generic version. With a less expensive alternative on the market, I see doctors prescribing and patients increasing for the generic version of the drug,” Santilli told Drug Topics.

    Since both Teva and Pfizer are also offering aggressive savings programs for patients, Santilli estimates savings of around $250 million.

    However, the overall savings to the U.S. health-care system will be less than is typical when a brand drug goes generic, according to Erik Gordon, PhD, Clinical Assistant Professor and Pharmaceutical Analyst with the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan.

    “That's because a lot of the scripts for Viagra were paid for by consumers, not by their health benefits plan. A lot of plans don't cover the drug because the plans don't consider the drug necessary and ordinary,” Gordon told Drug Topics.

    Still, generic Viagra will be a major boon for patients. “The launch of Teva’s sildenafil tablets brings an affordable generic treatment option to the estimated 18 million men in the U.S. who are diagnosed with erectile dysfunction,” said Brendan O’Grady, Executive Vice President, North America Commercial at Teva. “Our team has made it a priority to ensure that patients are able to access this medicine—through both traditional and more innovative channels.”

    Teva is offering programs such as a savings card, for people who meet certain requirements that allows them to “pay as little as $0 out-of-pocket with a maximum benefit of up to $100 per fill, for up to six sildenafil tablets prescriptions,” according to a company statement.

    Pfizer is also launching savings programs for its brand drug in January. Patients can get Viagra half off via Pfizer Direct, an online home delivery program. “Many insured patients will be able to get a month's prescription—typically six to ten pills, depending on plan limits—for as little as a $20 copayment,” Chicago Tribune reported.

    "This is the most comprehensive pricing and marketing response I've seen to a generic,” Gordon told the Chicago Tribune.

    The price of generic Viagra is expected to fall even lower by June, 2018, when Teva’s exclusivity for a generic version runs out.

    Christine Blank
    Contributing Editor Christine Blank is a freelance writer based in Florida.

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