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Which Generic ED Drug Has the Lowest Cost Per Dose?

Generic equivalents of Viagra, Cialis, and Levitra offer a significant savings over the brand-name medications. Based on current prices, the least expensive generic erectile dysfunction drug is vardenafil hydrochloride, the generic equivalent of Levitra.Â

Introduction

The erectile dysfunction drug market, limited to brand-name medications only for nearly two decades, finally began opening to generic alternatives in the closing days of 2017. As of early 2019, consumers can choose between generic formulations of Viagra, Cialis, and Levitra, which are sold under the names of each drug’s active ingredient — sildenafil citrate, tadalafil, and vardenafil hydrochloride, respectively.

Each of these generic versions is available at a price lower than a comparable amount of the brand-name drug. However, the savings between the brand-name drug and generic varies from one drug to another, as does the savings between the generic formulations themselves.

Here is a comprehensive overview of what’s available in generic alternatives to ED drugs, as well as a look at the prices currently posted for these medications at three national retail chains and also at longtime online facilitator eDrugstore.com.

Sildenafil Citrate (Viagra)

Fittingly, the first generic ED drug out of the box in the United States was sildenafil citrate, an alternative to Viagra, the pioneering impotence drug first introduced in 1998. Pfizer, which developed the brand-name drug, still holds its U.S. patent on Viagra, which isn’t scheduled to expire until April 2020. However, under a licensing agreement Pfizer worked out with Teva Pharmaceuticals, the Israeli-based kingpin in generic drugs, the latter was allowed to begin marketing its generic alternative in December 2017. For this privilege, it must pay a royalty to Pfizer until the latter’s patent on Viagra finally expires in 2020.

Teva’s brand of generic Viagra also faces competition from another generic formulation of sildenafil citrate, which is being marketed by Greenstone LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Pfizer.

The accompanying table lists the prices for 10 tablets of 100 milligrams each as currently posted at three retail pharmacy chains and at eDrugstore.com, an online facilitator based in Tempe, Arizona. Based on these prices, we’ve calculated the average prices per 50-milligram dose, which is the suggested starting dose for this medication. To achieve these prices, each 100-milligram tablet must be divided into two with a pill splitter.

PHARMACYVIAGRA 100 MG PILLS (10)PRICE PER 50-MG DOSESILDENAFIL 100 MG PILLS (10)PRICE PER 50-MG DOSE
CVS$774.83$38.74$506.88$25.34
WALGREENS$775.08$38.74$582.30$29.12
WALMART$751.94$37.60$470.25$23.51
EDRUGSTORE$835.04$41.75$397.50$19.88
AVERAGE$784.22$39.21$489.23$24.46

As you can see, the average price for a 50-milligram dose of Viagra across three major retail chains and eDrugstore is $39.21, compared with an average price of $24.46 for the same dose of sildenafil citrate, the generic alternative. Men who opt for the generic can save an average of $14.75 per 50-milligram dose.

Tadalafil (Cialis on demand)

Unlike its competitors, Cialis is available in two distinctive forms. At lower doses taken daily, the medication can allow a man with erectile dysfunction to be ready for sexual activity whenever the need arises. As originally introduced, however, Cialis was designed as a long-lasting drug to be taken on demand in advance of sexual activity. In this form, it sets itself apart from the other ED drugs on the market by its duration of action — up to 36 hours, compared with 4 to 6 hours from other ED drugs.

The accompanying table compares currently posted prices for 10 Cialis tablets of 20 milligrams each with prices for a comparable amount of tadalafil of the same strength. Included are prices posted at CVS, Walgreens, Walmart, and eDrugstore.com.

PHARMACYCIALIS 20 MG PILLS (10)PRICE PER 10-MG DOSETADALAFIL 20 MG PILLS (10)PRICE PER 10-MG DOSE
CVS$720.42$36.02$433.04$21.65
WALGREENS$749.49$37.47$537.09$26.85
WALMART$703.40$35.17$612.48$30.62
EDRUGSTORE$759.85$37.99$527.80$26.39
AVERAGE$733.29$36.66$527.60$26.37

As the table indicates, the average price for a 10-milligram dose of Cialis is $36.66, compared with $26.37 for a comparable quantity of tadalafil. This represents an average savings of just over $10 per 10-milligram dose.

Amber glass pill bottle.

Consumers can also realize a significant savings when purchasing lower-strength Cialis or tadalafil for daily use. The manufacturer says that men who faithfully take a low-strength (the recommended starting dose is 2.5 milligrams daily) tablet daily should be able to get and keep an erection suitable for intercourse whenever the moment is right.

The accompanying table compares currently posted prices for 30 Cialis tablets of 5 milligram each with prices for the identical quantity of tadalafil tablets of the same strength.

PHARMACYDAILY CIALIS 5 MG PILLS (30)PRICE PER 2.5-MG DOSEDAILY TADALAFIL 5 MG PILLS (30)PRICE PER 2.5-MG DOSE
CVS$372.26$6.20$240.92$4.02
WALGREENS$385.67$6.43$269.39$4.49
WALMART$361.00$6.02$263.63$4.39
EDRUGSTORE$491.40$8.19$345.00$5.75
AVERAGE$402.58$6.71$279.74$4.66

As the table makes clear, the average national price for a month’s supply of 5-milligram tablets of daily Cialis is $402.58. For those who can achieve a satisfactory erection with the recommended starting dose of 2.5 milligrams daily, that actually brings the monthly cost for daily Cialis to $201.29, or $6.71 per 2.5-milligram dose.

By contrast, the average national price for a month’s supply of 5-milligram tadalafil tablets is $279.74. Here again, for those who get the desired results from the recommended starting dose of 2.5 milligrams daily, that brings the monthly cost for daily tadalafil to $139.87, or $4.66 per 2.5-milligram dose.

Vardenafil Hydrochloride (Levitra)

The first generic version of Levitra to go on sale in the United States made its debut at the beginning of November 2018. It is being manufactured and marketed by Zygus (USA), the American division of Zygus Pharma, which is headquartered in Delhi, India.

The accompanying table offers a comparison of prices for brand-name Levitra at three national retail chains and eDrugstore.com, with those posted for a similar amount of vardenafil hydrochloride, Levitra’s generic equivalent.

PHARMACYLEVITRA 20 MG PILLS (10)PRICE PER 10-MG DOSEVARDENAFIL 20 MG PILLS (10)PRICE PER 10-MG DOSE
CVS$557.08$27.85$396.88$19.84
WALGREENS$578.80$28.94$393.09$19.65
WALMART$541.82$27.09$344.19$17.21
EDRUGSTORE$607.43$30.37$532.35$26.62
AVERAGE$571.28$28.56$416.63$20.83

As the table indicates, the average national price for a 10-milligram dose of Levitra is $28.56. This compares with an average national price for a comparable dose of generic vardenafil hydrochloride of $20.83. This represents an average savings of $7.73 when a consumer opts for a 10-milligram dose of vardenafil over the same size dose of brand-name Levitra.

Overall Comparison

Based on current prices, the best buy among the on-demand ED drugs is vardenafil, which costs an average of $20.83 per 10-milligram dose, which is the recommended starting dose. This compares with an average price of $24.46 for a recommended starting dose of Viagra and $26.37 for a recommended starting dose of Cialis on demand.

In fairness, it should be pointed out that while Viagra and Levitra each have a duration of action of 4 to 5 hours, higher-strength Cialis can last for up to 36 hours. For a young, sexually active male, the real bargain might be the higher strength Cialis tablet, particularly if the consumer plans a romantic weekend.

In a class by itself, of course, is daily Cialis. For men who seek the spontaneity offered by this daily regimen, buying low-dose tadalafil can realize a significant savings over a month’s supply of the brand-name drug.

Ordering from eDrugstore.com

For those who prefer the convenience of ordering their ED drugs online, longtime online facilitator eDrugstore.com has got you covered. Based in Tempe, Arizona, eDrugstore stocks a full range of ED medications, including both brand-name and generic products.

Although some of its prices are slightly higher than those posted at brick-and-mortar pharmacy chains, eDrugstore offers a number of complimentary extras that can save consumers both time and money. For those who don’t have a prescription, eDrugstore can arrange a complimentary online consultation with a licensed U.S. physician who can authorize a prescription if appropriate. This represents a significant savings. It also ships a free pill splitter with every first order to a new customer.

To learn more, visit eDrugstore’s Erectile Dysfunction page.