Pfizer praises rhythm method as it loses Viagra patent protection

The pharmaceutical company faces stiff competition from rivals when it loses patent protection on the drug later this month.

by Emma Haslett
Last Updated: 04 Jun 2013

Hard times ahead for drugs company Pfizer, which will lose its patent protection on erectile dysfunction pill Viagra this month – prompting dozens of its rivals to draw up plans for their own cut-price versions.

Apparently use of Viagra is on the up, with 2.3 million men in the UK prescribed the little blue pill last year, up from 1.8m five years ago.

At the moment, a single pill costs £10 – meaning men who are prescribed it on the NHS are limited to just one pill a week. Once the competition is introduced, the price will drop to just 85p, which will ‘torpedo’ the black market – or so Wallace Dinsmore, one of the drug’s creators, told The Times.

‘If you can buy it for a pound or two a pill, why would you go to some dodgy internet site?’ he asked. Why indeed?

But while our spam boxes may all be a little lighter for it, exclusivity on the drug will be a sore loss to Pfizer - Viagra was its sixth best-selling drug last year, netting it £1.35bn, up 4% on 2011.

That said, it’s bravely soldiering on. It will continue to sell its own version, Sildenafil Pfizer, in an attempt to cling to a share of the market. As Jonathan Emms, Pfizer’s UK managing director put it: ‘this is the rhythm of our business and we accept it,’ he said. Er, quite.


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