Viagra is one of the most popular drugs on the market today, earning manufacturer Pfizer over one billion dollars a year. Its popularity has led to thousands of bad jokes, hundreds of cheesy commercials, and put the phrase “erectile dysfunction” on the radar. But how much do you actually know about the infamous erectile dysfunction pill?
Here are 10 things you should know to get better acquainted with Viagra, and its generic sildenafil.
There will be two manufacturers for generic sildenafil… if not more.
In 2013, generic manufacturer Teva Pharmaceuticals reached a settlement that allowed them to manufacture generic sildenafil starting on December 11th, 2017. As of last week, Teva was set up to be the sole manufacturer for generic Viagra until 2020, when the brand name patent expires.
However, on December 6th, Viagra manufacturer Pfizer announced that they would also be releasing generic sildenafil, at a significantly reduced price. Ultimately this move will enable Pfizer to share in the profits of generic sildenafil. Smart move on their part.
Viagra’s patent officially expires in 2020, and we expect to see more manufacturers come to the table then, driving prices down. Stay tuned.
It will come in multiple dosages
Just like brand name Viagra, generic sildenafil will be sold in tablets of 25 mg, 50 mg, and 100 mg.
It will be 50% less than brand name Viagra
Yes, you read that right. Pfizer, the current manufacturer of brand-name Viagra announced they they will be releasing generic sildenafil at 50% off the current brand price. The average retail price of one tablet of Viagra is around $73, so we expect to see the price of generic sildenafil averaging at $30-$40 per tablet.
That is still on the pricey side for one tablet, but there is one more way to save. Generic manufacturer Teva offers a savings program for eligible patients to pay as little as $0 on their prescription. For more information on this program, see their website here.
Sildenafil won’t be different from brand name Viagra.
We consistently see patients voice concern about the efficacy of generic drugs. But keep in mind the rigorous process that drugs must go through before they hit the market. These processes ensure that generic medications contain the same active ingredients as their brand name counterparts, so there’s very few differences between brands and their generic counterparts. You can read more from the FDA about this here.
The biggest difference we can see right now? The color. The ‘little blue pill’ will now be the ‘little white pill’
A generic sildenafil already exists
Don’t let this confuse you. Sildenafil is the generic for two common drugs on the market right now, Revatio and Viagra, but these drugs are approved by the FDA for two different uses. Revatio is used to treat pulmonary arterial hypertension, while Viagra treats erectile dysfunction in men.
How can you distinguish between the two? Revatio-equivalent sildenafil is only sold as a 20 mg tablet, while Viagra’s generic sildenafil is sold in 25 mg, 50 mg, 100 mg tablets. For more on this, see our previous blog here.
It is the most counterfeited drug in the world
The problem of counterfeit Viagra is so widespread that Pfizer has even created their own security force to help cut down on the amount of unregulated drugs on the market. This team, called Pfizer Global Security, works with law enforcement, pharmacies and wholesalers to monitor distribution, and improve surveillance on counterfeit Viagra.
Why is this so important? One study done by the Pfizer Global Security team found that nearly 80% of online sites that claimed to sell Viagra were actually selling a counterfeit. The team has even found dangerous additives like blue printer ink, amphetamines (or speed), rat poison, road paint, and floor wax hidden in counterfeit Viagra—things you definitely don’t want to put in your body.
For more information on spotting fake Viagra, see Pfizer’s video on how to buy safely here.
It does have side effects
While you might have only heard of the good effects of Viagra, be aware that it does have some negative side effects. According to our friends at Iodine, people typically report side effects like headache, flushing, low blood pressure, abnormal vision, indigestion, and an erection lasting longer than five hours. Be sure to speak with your doctor or pharmacist if you experience any of these side-effects for a prolonged period of time.
It is available without a prescription in the UK
The UK just became the first company where patients can buy Viagra over the counter, without a prescription. It is sold under the name Viagra Connect, and is available as a 50 mg tablet for around $25 US dollars for four tablets.
This decision by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency is aimed at reducing the amount of black market, unregulated Viagra tablets sold.
It treats more than erectile dysfunction
In fact, it was first intended to treat chest pain and angina. However, patients prescribed sildenafil for chest pain reported an interesting side effect, an increased amount of erections, and it was soon after approved to treat erectile dysfunction.
Since then, sildenafil’s indications have expanded to include high blood pressure and pulmonary arterial hypertension in addition to erectile dysfunction
At GoodRx, we work everyday to bring you better prices and greater convenience with your prescription drugs.
We’ve just added new coupons and savings information for Fred’s Pharmacies to GoodRx. You can now find even greater savings at more than 350 Fred’s Pharmacy locations in the Southeast U.S., including Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana, Georgia, Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky, the Carolinas and other states.
It’s easy to save at Fred’s. Just look up a prescription on on GoodRx to quickly see prices, discounts, savings tips and information about Fred’s pharmacy locations. Then, print, email or text a coupon for your prescription, and present it to the pharmacist to save.
In addition, Fred’s Pharmacies now participates in GoodRx Gold. Find exclusive savings of up to 90% off on thousands of prescriptions at Fred’s and thousands of other pharmacies across the US.
Most Americans don’t need to read the headlines to know that prescription medicines cost too much. They feel it every day in their wallets, and in the struggle to pay for expensive drugs, month after month.
Since GoodRx started seven years ago, more and more Americans have learned that drug prices can vary widely, and they’ve come to realize that having health insurance doesn’t guarantee affordable prescriptions. Along the way, new websites and apps have popped up to promise Americans all sorts of saving on their healthcare.
So what’s the best way to find savings on a patient’s prescriptions?
Before we get to any conclusions, it’s worth highlighting a key difference between GoodRx and many other services. GoodRx gathers available prices and discounts for every prescription at every pharmacy in the US. Altogether, we have collected billions of prices and discounts – so we don’t just offer one price set by one partner. When a patient uses GoodRx, they tap into all of these ways to save, and they can then decide for themselves where they want to buy their medications, and at what cost, before they head to the pharmacy. That transparency means more choice and lower prices.
We’re excited to report that independent experts agree that GoodRx is the best way to save. In the latest issue of the Journal for American Academy of Dermatology, a leading academic journal for dermatologists, two Ohio researchers examined prices from 3 discount services, including GoodRx, for 21 commonly prescribed dermatologic medications (such as tetracyclines like doxycycline and minocycline, and topical meds like adapalene and triamcinolone).
The researchers compared our prices with two other discount programs, and the news was good for us, and for our customers. The researchers found that GoodRx offered the best prices by far – nearly three times cheaper than Blink Health prices and one-and-a-half times cheaper than SingleCare prices. (To be clear, this research was done completely independently. We learned of it after publication, and we have not spoken to the authors.)
In their letter, the researchers reached a strong and clear conclusion: “GoodRx is the superior application for finding the cheapest medication costs among the 3 applications studied,” they write. “GoodRx appears to offer the overall greatest savings among the most popular apps.”
This finding isn’t just good news for patients – the researchers also believe that GoodRx can help physicians deliver better care, and save time. In a note, Dr. Matthew Zirwas, the Ohio dermatologist who led the analysis, explained that, by using GoodRx and other services, “I estimate that my office has needed to hire one less office staff member and that I save about 1-2 hours of my time per week. Even better, there is no question that these companies improve primary adherence (defined as the patient actually getting the prescription from the pharmacy) while strengthening the patient-doctor relationship and saving patients money.”
At GoodRx, we try to stay humble, but it makes us proud when independent experts agree with us that GoodRx is both the best place for patients to save – and also helps doctors improve their practices. Many doctors don’t know about GoodRx, and the more they learn about us from their peers and colleagues, the more likely they’ll be to recommend us to their patients. That helps us, and it helps the patients.
November is National Diabetes Awareness month!
While you might think that this is just another made-up holiday, similar to National Chocolate Fondue day, you’re wrong! Diabetes Awareness Month has a very important purpose. The National Institute of Health and American Diabetes Association uses November to raise awareness about diabetes risk-factors and life-threatening complications, and promote preventative behaviors.
Why is this important? In 2015, 30.3 million (9.5% of the population) people had diabetes, and about half of all Americans with diabetes went undiagnosed. Diabetes can lead to life-threatening complications, like nerve and kidney damage, Alzheimer’s disease, cardiovascular diseases, or even eye damage. Fortunately, most cases of diabetes can be prevented with a healthy diet and regular exercise, and with proper management, severe complications can be avoided.
This November, our team at GoodRx will be bringing you more information about affording your diabetes medications, tips for treatment, and insulin comparisons. Stay tuned!
Let’s kick off diabetes month with some info about new innovative glucose meters. The importance of having a discrete and easy way to check your blood sugar is vital for many diabetics and pre-diabetics. So what’s available?
The Dario is an all-in-one smart glucose meter that can monitor and measure your blood glucose with the help of your smartphone. The Dario is simple to use and has a disposable test strip cartridge and a lancing device that easily fits in your pocket.
The Dario does not require batteries as the power comes directly from your cell phone when you plug the device into your phone’s audio jack. It also automatically tracks your blood sugar readings and can send the results to your healthcare provider. The Dario only works with Apple smartphone using a free app that will help you manage your diabetes.
The Dario device costs $69.99 and 100 lancets cost $5.99. It also has a pay as you go plan where you can get strips delivered every 90 days to your home for $49.50 or $16.50 per month.
The FORA Test N’GO is a small glucose monitor that connects to your smartphone via Bluetooth Technology. This FORA is compatible with Apple and Android devices and is rechargeable using a USB device that can plug directly into your computer, or a wall adaptor.
Unlike the Dario device, which is an all-in-one system, the FORA can’t plug directly into your smartphone and requires a separate lancing device. The FORA device works with Android and Apple smartphone using a free companion app to help you manage your diabetes,
Supplies for the FORA can be purchased online via their website. The lancing device can be purchased for $8 along with a 100-count box of lancets for $6.90. The FORA device itself only costs $29.99 and a 50-count box of the compatible test strips are $19.99.
The iHealth Smart is a portable, shareable, diabetes data management device that connects to your smartphone using Bluetooth Technology, similar to the FORA Test N’GO.
The iHealth Align is also a portable glucometer but attaches directly to your smartphone or tablet. This device is similar to the Dario but is not an all-in-one system.
Both the iHealth Smart and iHealth Align work with Android and Apple smartphones using a free Gluco-Smart app to help you manage your diabetes. The app allows you to record your blood sugar readings and share them with your health-care provider.
The Contour Next One connects to your smartphone via Bluetooth technology similar to the FORA and the iHealth Smart.
A nice feature of the Contour Next one is that it has second-chance sampling where you can re-apply blood to the test strip if the 1st sample is not enough. This helps you avoid pricking yourself a second time, and wasting another lancet and test strip. The Contour Next One uses a separate lancing device, the Microlet Next, which is included with the purchase of your Contour Next One meter.
The Contour Next one works with various Android and Apple smartphones using a free app to help you manage your diabetes. The app allows you to record your blood sugar readings and take some of the hassles out of managing your diabetes.
GluCase if the world’s 1st smartphone case glucometer. Like Dario, the GluCase is an all-in-one product built right into your cell phone case.
According to their crowdfunding page, GluCase combines dispensable lancets, test strips, and an embedded blood glucose meter all in a single device. GluCase also communicates with a smartphone app and can show users how their blood sugar levels are affected in various manners, including activity and food.
GluCase was available on Indiegogo for $29 plus shipping. This included 1 GluCase Smartphone Glucometer with 50 test strips, 20 lancets, and access to the GluCase smartphone app.
Their website does not list current prices for the GluCase of supplies now that the Indigogo campaign has ended,
Glucowise is developing a new non-invasive glucose monitor, meaning no blood samples of pricking your fingers, which will help you take control of your life. This product is still under development and is not available for public testing at this time.
Last month, the Trump administration rolled back part of the Obamacare contraception mandate, making it no longer mandatory for employers to cover the full cost of birth control on grounds of religious freedom. 55 million women who received free birth control since 2012 are now at risk of losing it. Employers are now free to remove birth control coverage from their employee insurance offerings, and hundreds of thousands of women might be at risk of losing free birth control.
Now is a good time for women to understand their options, in order to find affordable out-of-pocket protection, as well as a method that won’t wreak havoc on their bodies either. Here is some useful information about oral contraceptives – also known as “the pill” – which are the most popular forms of birth control. (If you already know the pill isn’t right for you, see this birth control tool which includes information about IUDs and other methods).
Top 5 prescribed brands (and their generics)
About 90% of the birth control pills used in the U.S. are generic versions of brand-name drugs. The brands are usually still available, but they’re generally much more expensive than the generic alternative. Here are the 5 most commonly prescribed oral contraceptives in the United States, in both brand and generic form:
- Ortho Tri-Cyclen ($50.15); generics tri-sprintec ($9) and tri-previfem ($8.92)
combination triphasic pill
- Alesse (discontinued); generics orsythia ($14.92) and aviane ($14.91)
combination monophasic pill
- Loestrin FE 1/20 ($118.05); generic junel FE 1/20 ($15.17)
combination monophasic pill with iron
- Nor-Qd ($67.25); generics camila ($8.91) and norethindrone ($9)
progestin-only / mini pill
- Desogen ($52.04); usually dispensed as generic apri ($15.64)
combination monophasic pills
Prices shown are average GoodRx discounted prices as of Nov 1, 2017. Local results may vary.
How do doctors decide what to prescribe?
The conversation usually starts with a doctor asking what their patient would feel most comfortable using. If they aren’t sure or don’t have a preference, the doctor typically starts with Ortho Tri-Cyclen for adult non-smokers under 35, Loestrin Fe 1/20 for teenagers and young adults, and camila for women who smoke, are breastfeeding, or are over 35.
How do I know if I should switch?
Most oral contraceptives will effectively prevent pregnancy when used properly (the pill has a failure rate of 9% with typical use), but they can also cause a lot of unpleasant side effects. After all, taking the pill means adding hormones to your body – and everybody reacts differently to hormones. So know that what and how you’re feeling may not always match the guidelines, and know too that there are usually other good options. The most common reasons women switch are menstrual cycle changes (flow becoming too heavy or irregular), weight gain, acne, headaches, and mood changes. It can take your body up to 3 months to get used to the new hormones, so don’t be afraid to talk to your doctor about other options if these side effects don’t get better after a while.
What kind of hormones are we talking about?
It only requires one hormone, progestin, to prevent pregnancy. On its own, progestin stops ovulation to prevent fertilization, thins the uterine lining to prevent implantation, and thickens the cervix to prevent sperm from entering the uterus. Estrogen helps boost the contraceptive effects of the progestin, and also helps to prevent ovulation. Its main purpose, though, is to help provide better cycle regulation. The more estrogen there is, the lower the chance of breakthrough bleeding or spotting.
Why are there so many different brands?
In a nutshell, each brand contains a different combination of progestin and estrogen meant to help women minimise side effects while effectively preventing pregnancy. Progestin, unlike estrogen, does not increase the risk of stroke and is safe to use while breastfeeding. But you have to take it at the same time every day or else you risk getting pregnant and experience breakthrough bleeding. For this reason, some women opt for brands that also have estrogen — so there is more flexibility to remembering to take the pill. Estrogen is also better for cycle regulation but comes with a lot of side effects attributed to birth control, like lowered sex drive, acne, bloating, weight gain, and mood swings.
Your doctor will work with you to figure out what levels of progestin and estrogen are best for you, but it’s useful to know your options ahead of time. Below, we go into more detail about all the available types of oral contraceptives and how they may affect you.
A “combo” pill contains both progestin and estrogen. Most birth control pills fall into this category, but there are several sub-categories as listed below:
- Monophasic pills are the most common type of birth control pill. They are “single phase”, meaning they provide a steady dose of hormones throughout the entire pack. Doctors will usually start women on a low dose of estrogen to limit the risk of stroke, and switch to a higher dose if they experience too much breakthrough bleeding or spotting.
- Biphasic pills contain two sets of pills at different strengths. Usually, the amount of progestin changes and the amount of estrogen stays the same throughout the entire pack until you get to the inactive, or placebo, pills.
- Triphasic pills provide a steady dose of estrogen but three different doses of progestin throughout the pack. The level of progestin gradually increases as you go through the pack similar to what the body does naturally. The most common pattern is 7 days of one strength, 7 days of another strength, 7 days of a third strength, and then 7 days of inactive pills.
- Quadriphasic pills contains four different strengths of hormones and is supposed to be the best at imitating a woman’s natural hormone changes throughout her menstrual cycle.
- Pros: Side effects and breakthrough bleeding are least likely to happen on this type of combo pill
- Cons: Missed pills are very hard to correct, meaning that a woman is more likely to get pregnant by accident if she misses a dose
- Examples: Only one brand available, and it’s expensive — Natazia ($192.92)
- Extended cycle pills are designed to deliver hormones for 91 days so women only have 4 periods a year. They usually come as monophasic pills but there are a few triphasic options as well.
- Pros: Good option if you want fewer periods (for personal or health reasons) or want to adjust your periods for life events
- Cons: Because it changes your natural cycle so dramatically, you are very likely to experience breakthrough bleeding or spotting
- Examples: jolessa ($48.18), camrese ($50.11), camreselo ($74.15)
- Continuous cycle pills are similar to extended cycle pills except there are no periods at all. You can do the same thing with your regular monophasic packs, though — doctors often instruct women to take only the active pills in the pack and continue on to the next pack without any breaks.
- Pros: Virtually eliminates menstrual periods and reduces cramps
- Cons: Extremely likely to cause breakthrough bleeding or spotting. The lack of a period can also make it difficult to know if an unintended pregnancy has happened
- Examples: Only one generic available – amethyst ($29.29)
This is the other major type of birth control pill, commonly referred to as the “minipill”. It provides a steady dose of progestin throughout the month. It doesn’t contain estrogen, there are no inactive pills, and you don’t take a break between packs.
- Pros: Best choice for smokers, women over 35, women with a history of strokes or heart problems, and breastfeeding women
- Cons: The minipill is very unforgiving — you must take it at the same exact time every day. If you miss a dose by 3 hours or more, you can get pregnant and you are very likely to have heavy breakthrough bleeding
- Examples: camila ($8.91), jolivette ($8.91), norethindrone ($9)
The name game
Brand name pills are usually pretty simple to pronounce and remember. Some are even pretty clever. Loestrin, for example, prides itself on providing the lowest amount of estrogen compared to other brands. Ortho Tri-Cyclen is a triphasic pill. With Seasonale and Seasonique, women only get 4 periods a year — so once every season.
Unlike other drugs, the names of generic oral contraceptives aren’t just their chemical names. Manufacturers usually give them special names to make them easier for people to pronounce and remember. While some still try to cleverly play on the type of pill it is (tri-previfem and tri-sprintec are generics of Ortho Tri-Cyclen), most seem random, albeit very feminine (Portia, Zarah, Camila). In general though, birth control pill names can be a bit confusing but we have managed to pick up on a few patterns.
When a number is included in the name, it can mean one of two things. Usually, the number refers to the strength of the hormones in the pack. For example, junel FE 1/20 contains 1 mg progestin and 20 mcg estrogen and Ovcon 35 contains 0.4 mg progestin and 35 mcg estrogen. But sometimes, the number refers to the layout of the pack, so Loestrin 24 FE has 24 active tablets in it. Necon 7/7/7 increases the strength of hormones every 7 days in a pack.
Some manufacturers include a small amount of iron in the inactive pills of the pack, marked by the “FE” at the end of the name (iron is FE on the periodic table). Sometimes women will lose iron during their menstrual period so the extra iron can actually help prevent temporary anemia.
The last thing included in some of the names is “low” or “lo”. Some drugmakers produce a second version of their birth control pill with a lower strength of estrogen than the original. This is a better choice for women who experience issues tied to hormonal imbalances during their cycle (like acne, PMS, and moodiness). On the flip side, LO versions of the pill may not be able to help women who take birth control for acne treatment.
Prices shown are average GoodRx discounted prices as of Nov 1, 2017. Local results may vary. Thanks to pharmacist Christina Aungst for help researching this post.