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CVS pharmacy building.

How Much Do ED Drugs Cost at CVS?

CVS, America’s biggest retail pharmacy chain, offers attractive prices for the three leading erectile dysfunction drugs as well as their generic equivalents. In general, you’ll pay around $22 per dose for the least expensive generic drug to around $41 per dose for the most expensive branded drug. But savvy shoppers may find they can save money and time by ordering these drugs from longtime online facilitator eDrugstore.com.

Introduction

The preferred treatment for erectile dysfunction caused by insufficient blood flow to the penis is one of the oral impotence medications known collectively as PDE5 inhibitors. As their name suggests, these drugs temporarily disable the phosphodiesterase-5 enzyme, which can interfere with erectile function, particularly in men whose vascular systems are compromised.

Men should compare the major brand-name drugs and their generic equivalents not only to see how they work, i.e., duration of action, but also how they are priced.

This article offers an updated look at currently posted prices for the three most popular brand-name ED drugs and their generic alternatives at CVS pharmacies across the country and at eDrugstore.com, a longtime online facilitator. The “Big 3” in ED medications are Viagra, Cialis, and Levitra, and their respective generic equivalents are sildenafil citrate, tadalafil, and vardenafil hydrochloride.

In making price comparisons, savvy shoppers should keep in mind the overall cost of these drugs, which includes not just their prices but the time and money spent visiting the doctor to get a prescription and then filling it at a local pharmacy.

CVS Pharmacy

With more than 9,800 retail pharmacies in 49 states and the District of Columbia, CVS Pharmacy is the largest pharmacy chain in the United States. It is a subsidiary of CVS Health, which is headquartered in Woonsocket, Rhode Island. In addition to its retail pharmacy services, CVS Health is a major pharmacy benefit management company through its Caremark subsidiary and also deals in drugs for rare and chronic conditions through its CVS Specialty subsidiary.

Doing business in every state except Wyoming, CVS Pharmacy was responsible for nearly one-third of all prescriptions filled in the United States in 2018. The pharmacy chain set itself apart from many of its competitors in the fall of 2014 when it ended all tobacco sales at its retail outlets.

‘Big 3’ ED Drugs

The most popular brand-name ED drugs today are Viagra, Cialis, and Levitra. Viagra (sildenafil citrate), Pfizer’s iconic little blue pill, started the revolution back in 1998 when it offered a new way to treat vascular-related ED, which is responsible for roughly 80 percent of all ED diagnoses.

In August 2003, the Food and Drug Administration gave the green light to Levitra (vardenafil hydrochloride). Roughly three months later, Cialis (tadalafil) won FDA approval to begin marketing in the United States.

As originally marketed, all three of these drugs were designed to be taken as needed — 30 to 120 minutes before the anticipated start of sexual activity. In terms of onset and duration of action, Viagra and Levitra were the most like each other, taking effect 30 to 60 minutes after being taken and lasting for four to six hours.

Viagra

Taking an ED drug such as Viagra or Cialis temporarily optimizes blood flow to the penis, facilitating erectile function.

Thanks to a significantly longer half-life, Cialis created a unique market niche of its own. While it took a bit longer for Cialis to become effective — up to two hours for full efficacy — its effects lasted for up to 36 hours, earning it the nickname of “the weekender pill.” A pill taken at 9 p.m. on Friday might still be effective into the early morning hours of Sunday. Beginning in 2008, the FDA approved the marketing of lower-strength doses of Cialis as a daily regimen to ensure those taking it would be ready for sex whenever the time was right.

Generic Equivalents of the ‘Big 3’

The brand-name ED drugs faced no generic competition in the United States for nearly two decades, but the dam began to break in December 2017. That month, Teva Pharmaceuticals introduced its brand of sildenafil citrate, the active ingredient in Viagra and its generic equivalent. At about the same time, Greenstone LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Pfizer, also introduced its brand of the Viagra generic. Pfizer’s U.S. patent on Viagra does not expire until April 2020, so Teva must pay Pfizer a licensing fee for the privilege of marketing its generic equivalent of the drug.

In the fall of 2018, generic equivalents of Cialis and Levitra entered the U.S. market. Available in tablets of 2.5, 5, 10 and 20 milligrams, tadalafil, the generic equivalent of Cialis, went on sale in September 2018, followed a month or so later by a generic equivalent of Levitra, marketed as vardenafil hydrochloride.

Both brand-name and generic forms of these three drugs are available at CVS Pharmacy retail outlets and also online at eDrugstore.com.

ED Drug Prices at CVS

Savvy ED drug buyers know that they will pay roughly the same for 10 tablets of 50-milligram Viagra as they will for the same amount of 100-milligram tablets. Because 50 milligrams of the little blue pill is the recommended starting dose for Viagra and works for most men with ED, each 100-milligram tablet yields two 50-milligram doses when split in half with a pill splitter. Effectively, consumers can get two doses for the price of one.

That said, our price comparisons for Viagra, Cialis, and Levitra base the cost per dose on the prices quoted for 10 tablets of double the strength of the recommended starting dose, which when split in half yield 20 doses.

The accompanying table shows current cash prices at CVS for 10 tablets each of 100-milligram Viagra and its generic equivalent sildenafil citrate, 20-milligram Cialis and tadalafil, and 20-milligram Levitra and vardenafil hydrochloride. Our source for this data is GoodRx.com.

ED MEDICATION10 BRAND-NAME TABLETSPRICE PER RSD*10 GENERIC TABLETSPRICE PER RSD*
VIAGRA (SILDENAFIL) 100-MG$782$39.10$448$22.40
CIALIS (TADALAFIL) 20-MG$805$40.25$524$26.20
LEVITRA (VARDENAFIL) 20-MG$625$31.25$482$24.10
*Recommended Starting Dose

As you can see from the table, CVS prices for the brand-name ED drugs range from a low of $31.25 per recommended starting dose of Levitra to a high of $40.25 per RSD of Cialis. It should be noted that this is a bit like comparing apples and oranges, in that the two drugs have sharply different durations of action.

The retail pharmacy chain’s prices for the generic equivalents of the top three ED medications range from a low of $22.40 per RSD of sildenafil citrate to a high of $26.20 per RSD of tadalafil. In this three-way comparison, generic Viagra is the winner, probably because it’s been on the market for almost a year longer than the other two generics.

Bottle of pills spilling.

Savvy shoppers compare ED drug prices to ensure they’re getting the maximum bang for their bucks.

ED Drug Prices at eDrugstore

In business since the late 1990s, eDrugstore.com is based in Tempe, Arizona, and sells only FDA-approved medications, all of which are dispensed by licensed U.S. pharmacists.

Its services differ from those of brick-and-mortar retail pharmacies in that it offers a number of complimentary extras. Most notably, eDrugstore will set up complimentary online consultations with licensed U.S. physicians for customers who don’t yet have a prescription for one of the ED drugs, none of which is available without a prescription. This represents a significant savings for consumers who can’t find the time — or money — to visit their regular doctors to obtain a script. And eDrugstore’s customers also avoid the extra time it would take to travel to the pharmacy and stand in line to pick up their prescriptions.

The table here shows eDrugstore’s currently posted prices for 10 tablets each of 100-milligram Viagra and its generic equivalent sildenafil citrate, 20-milligram Cialis and tadalafil, and 20-milligram Levitra and vardenafil hydrochloride. These prices reflect the 10 percent discount that was in force at the time of our visit. These discounts range from 7 to 10 percent depending on when you visit the site. As an added extra, eDrugstore ships a free pill splitter with all first orders.

ED MEDICATION10 BRAND-NAME TABLETSPRICE PER RSD*10 GENERIC TABLETSPRICE PER RSD*
VIAGRA (SILDENAFIL) 100-MG$917.63$45.88$397.50$19.88
CIALIS (TADALAFIL) 20-MG$835$41.75$580$29
LEVITRA (VARDENAFIL) 20-MG$667.50$33.38$585$29.25
*Recommended Starting Dose

As you can see from the table, the prices at eDrugstore are generally a bit higher than those at CVS. However, if you take advantage of the complimentary physician consultation available at eDrugstore, you will enjoy a far greater savings — in both money and time — over the comparable CVS prices.

To learn more about all the services and potential savings available from eDrugstore, visit its Erectile Dysfunction page.