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Orange pills on top of us paper money.

Why Generic Viagra Isn’t as Cheap as You Might Expect

Everyone knows that generic drugs are cheaper than their brand name counterparts. But are they really? When it comes to buying generic Viagra, the reality is more complicated. 

Generic Viagra, or sildenafil, was first released on the market in 2017, but the impact on drug prices wasn’t what consumers expected. After experiencing relatively high prices for ED prescriptions for close to two decades, a significant price drop was highly anticipated.

Unfortunately, a new practice a taking shape among some major drug companies that is keeping these prices higher, even after the introduction of generics. This is what has happened with Viagra, and consumers are finding that the prices of ED drugs are still high.

Viagra’s Patent and Price History

Viagra, the revolutionary drug to treat ED, was first approved in 1998 but the original patent was filed by Pfizer, the drug’s maker, in 1990 and 1994. Because of the date the patent was filed, it is valid for 17 years from the grant date, which was October 2002.

Viagra’s patent was set to expire in October 2019, but this has been extended to April 2020 because Pfizer was granted an additional six months from FDA for responding to a request to conduct pediatric clinical trials.

Pfizer’s U.S. Viagra sales in 2016 were about $1.2 billion, but the company settled a lawsuit out of court with Teva in 2013 that granted the other drug maker to license and sell generic sildenafil beginning December 2017. That year, Pfizer’s Viagra sales dropped to less than $800 million.

Medical doctor holding a sign labeled generic drugs.

When Pfizer also controls the generic equivalent of Viagra, your savings will suffer.

Drug Maker Strategies for Combating Generics

In the past, generic drugs entering the market have provided consumers with significant price relief. Large drugmakers now anticipate this hit to their bottom line results and are executing strategies to protect their business and keep you paying more.

Price comparison site GoodRx has revealed a growing trend among pharmaceutical companies with brand name drugs nearing patent expiration. Specifically, the companies are boosting prices on their drugs up to a year out from this date. The result is that consumers pay soaring costs as the date nears and end up paying the same amount as they previously had once the “discounted” generic drug is released.

Another strategy, which is one currently used by Pfizer with Viagra, is for the same drugmaker that developed the drug to be the one with the first release of a generic equivalent. Even as Teva was gearing up to launch a generic version of Viagra, Pfizer announced that it would do the same.

Despite the competition, Pfizer continues to hold onto roughly 90 percent of the generic market. But the problem is that these drugs are about half (50%) the cost of the brand name.

Why You Aren’t Saving More on Generic Viagra

While this price for sildenafil sounds attractive, it should be less. According to MarketWatch, prices generally sit at about 60% of the brand price when generics first hit the market, but they quickly drop. As competitors enter, these prices should drop to about 20% of the brand price.

Unfortunately, Pfizer has made some select deals with several generic manufacturers to keep them from undercutting prices too much. There is even proposed anti-gouging legislation to address the issue of generic prescription drug price increases.

When the patent for Viagra expires in 2020, consumers can expect that prices will drop again slightly, but the reality is that generic Viagra may never be as cheap as some other generic drugs.

Check out our Erectile Dysfunction page to learn more about ordering both brand name and generic ED drugs online through eDrugstore.com.

Don Amerman has spent more than three decades in the business of writing and editing. During the last 15 years, his focus has been on freelance writing. For almost all of his writing, He has done all of his own research, both online and off, including telephone and face-to-face interviews where possible. Don Amerman on Google+