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Viagra price drop to boost sales 2014-07-27
By Bettina Arndt

The little blue pill that changed many people's lives is about to enter a rapid new growth phase, with the price of Viagra falling to less than a cup of coffee.

When Pfizer’s patent for Viagra ran out in mid-May, the company offered pharmacies huge reductions on their product, hoping to carve out some of the new cheap market before generic brands took over. The huge discount brand, Chemist Warehouse was the first to react, offering Viagra at $15 for 4 of the 100 gm dose - the active ingredient is called Sildenafil. The same packet had been selling for $65-$85.

Other big chains are following suit, with companies such as Blooms and Terry White now offering a generic version (APO-Sildenafil) at $14 for four 100 mg pills. How the big price drop will affect Viagra’s main competitor, the Eli Lilly drug Cialis is still unclear. Cialis hit the Australian market five years after Viagra’s launch in 1998 but quickly caught up due to its promise of action for "le weekend" - up to 36 hours' erection boost, unlike Viagra which lasts only a few hours.

‘‘The high price has always been a stumbling block preventing many men from being able to afford to use the drug regularly,’’ says Sydney-based erectile dysfunction specialist Chris McMahon. Even in cases where the erection problem is associated with diseases such as diabetes or the result of prostate cancer treatment, most men in Australia receive no financial compensation, with very few private health funds paying for such treatments.

David Sandoe, national chairman of the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia, points out women with breast cancer receive considerable government support for breast reconstruction and prostheses following mastectomy but most men have no Medicare funding for the costs of their post-cancer sexual rehabilitation.

‘‘It’s never made sense that male cancer victims are treated so differently from women,’’ he says.

In Britain, Viagra was costing the National Health Service more than £40 million ($72 million) a year before Pfizer’s patent ran out in June last year and cheap generic products flooded the market bringing the cost right down. Many are hoping the new cheap Viagra will dissuade men from ordering potentially dangerous erection drugs online. With more men being able to afford this treatment, it might cut through some of the embarrassment and secrecy that has long surrounded it.

‘‘I still have guys who’ll only come in when there’s a male to hand over the Viagra discretely wrapped in a paper bag," says Sydney pharmacist, Paul Sharman from Blooms in  Coogee.

"It’s about time we got more open about the whole business."


Patent Pending:   60/481641
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