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Generic Viagra Launches in Europe; How Is It Holding Up?

Most Western European countries now have access to cheaper, generic versions of Viagra.

Most Western European countries now have access to cheaper, generic versions of Viagra.

Pfizer’s patent on Viagra expired in many Western European countries in June, and several generic makers were preapproved and ready to begin selling their versions of the drug as soon as they were permitted to.

Three major generic makers — Actavis, Teva, and Mylan — launched their products in a total of 14 countries in Western Europe, and several more are expected to start selling their own generics very soon.

Following is a chart of 14 Western European countries, and the availability of the new generics by Actavis, Teva, and Mylan

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Country Actavis Teva Mylan
Austria

Belgium

Czech Republic

Denmark

France

Germany

Ireland

Italy

Netherlands

Slovakia

Spain

Sweden

Switzerland

United Kingdom

Effect of Generics on Price

The more generic versions of a drug available, the lower the price for that drug in general. According to the European Generic Medicines Association (EGA), generics are sold for 20 to 90% less than the brand-name product in most cases. In the UK, at least, that projection has been borne out, as the price for drugs containing sildenafil citrate (the active ingredient in Viagra) have fallen from £10 per pill (approximately US$15.30) to around £1 per pill (approximately US$1.53).

Paul Fleming, Technical Director of the British Generic Manufacturers Association told Wall Street Daily that price declines are expected to be “very rapid and very steep.” In Europe, most doctors write prescriptions using the generic name of the drug rather than the brand name, so most patients will by default switch to a generic unless they should specifically ask for the brand-name drug.

How Is Pfizer Taking the Introduction of Generics in Europe?

While this is terrific news for consumers, Pfizer is expected to take a hit, despite the fact that its patent in the United States looks like it will be in effect until 2019 or 2020. In 2012, Viagra was Pfizer’s sixth best-selling drug, with over $2 billion in global revenue. Since another of Pfizer’s blockbuster drugs, cholesterol-fighter Lipitor, lost patent protection in 2011, the company has lost out on $10 billion in sales to generic manufacturers.

Pfizer will lose millions or even billions of dollars as generics enter the European market, but they're fighting back in a somewhat unexpected way.

Pfizer will lose millions — or even billions — of dollars as generics enter the European market, but they’re fighting back in a somewhat unexpected way.

Pfizer as a Generic Manufacturer

Though Pfizer will continue to market Viagra in the UK and across Europe, it is expected to ultimately face competition from more than 20 generic manufacturers. One of those manufacturers is Pfizer itself. The factory in Amboise, France that makes Viagra is also now manufacturing a low-cost Pfizer version called White Diamond. It still plans to sell its classic blue version as a premium product for those who ask for it by name. Customers for original Viagra are expected to be more well-off customers who have private insurance.

A Possible Problem from a Flood of New Generics

One possible problem with the flood of generics hitting the market at the same time is the possibility of men thinking they’re buying a cheap, legitimate generic when in fact they’re buying a counterfeit product. It is critical that customers in Europe speak with their doctors or pharmacists about the names of legitimate generics, and that they always purchase them from a trusted source. Now that legitimate, inexpensive generic versions of Viagra are available in Western Europe, some doctors fear that ultra-low prices won’t be the tip-off to counterfeits that they once were.

Consumers in the US should also be wary of ads from outfits purporting to sell European generics. The flood of generics entering European markets could make it easier for counterfeiters to convince US consumers they’re getting a product that’s sold in Europe when they’re really getting counterfeits. US consumers should also be aware that importing prescription drugs to the United States is illegal.

At AccessRx.com, we sell only Pfizer’s genuine Viagra, because generics are not available yet in the United States. We offer this product at competitive prices and ship quickly, conveniently, and discreetly, just like we’ve done since 1998.

Photo Credits: Vichaya Kiatying Angsulee / freedigitalphotos.net, graur razvan ionut / freedigitalphotos.net

About Mary Hiers

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Mary Hiers is a full-time writer with a background in engineering and print journalism as well as writing about a wide variety of health care topics. She lives in Tennessee and is the author of two works of fiction. Mary earned her bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Tennessee and the University of Tennessee Space Institute. Mary Hiers on Google+

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