5 Things You Should Know Before You Pay for Your Erectile Dysfunction Medications

blue pills in dose pack
Dr. Sharon Orrange
Dr. Orrange is an Associate Professor of Clinical Medicine in the Division of Geriatric, Hospitalist and General Internal Medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of USC.
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Many of you are experiencing price gouging at $10 – $14 a pill for your erectile dysfunction medications. I was reminded today by a patient, who takes 50 mg of Viagra as needed, that we can save you some money. Here is what you need to know before you spend the dough:

1) Viagra will cost roughly the same amount per pill whether it’s 25 mg, 50 mg or 100mg. Have your doctor prescribe you a 100 mg pill which you can cut in half or in fourths 30 minutes prior to intercourse. Those six 100 mg tablets that your insurance company allows will last you longer.

2) The same goes for Cialis which comes in 2.5 mg, 5 mg, 10 mg and 20 mg doses. Ask your doctor about prescribing the 10 mg or 20 mg tablets, which you can cut into smaller doses to use prior to intercourse.

3) Levitra is also available in escalating doses, so you can get a prescription for a 10 mg tablet and break it in half as needed.

4) Viagra is set to become generic in March 2012, so this game will change for the better for patients. We hope.

What have you paid?

Dr O.

All strengths of Viagra tend to be priced from $10 to as much as $25 per pill. Cialis varies in pricing, from around $5 per pill for the 2.5 mg and 5 mg doses, to as much as $20 – $30 for the 10 mg and 20 mg doses. All strengths of Levitra tend to be priced from $15 – $20 per pill. All three are not covered by many insurance plans, but will likely be considered Tier 2 or Tier 3 medications when they are covered, meaning a moderate to high co-pay.

Update for clarification:

The patent for Viagra was approved by the FDA for Pfizer on March 27th 1998 and expires March 27th 2012. Whether or not someone (a drug company) will make and market a generic version once the patent expires is not yet known.

Teva pharmaceuticals tried to market a generic Viagra (sildenafil) starting March 2012 when Pfizer’s patent was set to run out. Pfizer sued Teva in Federal Court and won in August 2011. So, Teva can’t market an erectile dysfunction drug, BUT sildenafil (the drug which is the active ingredient in Viagra) still comes up for grabs in 2012. It sounds confusing, but though it will be until 2019 before anyone but Pfizer could market sildenafil as an impotence drug, it will still be available in 2012. Tricky I know, but there is a lot of money at stake so games are being played.

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