Generic Viagra: On the Way, But Not Cheap

Tori Marsh
Tori Marsh, MPH, is on the Research Team at GoodRx, and is the resident expert on drug pricing and savings.
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The next few months will mark the launch of generic alternatives for Viagra (sildenafil) and Cialis (tadalafil), the two most popular erectile dysfunction (ED) medications. Viagra, approved to treat Erectile dysfunction in men, could see a generic as soon as December 11th, 2017. Generic Cialis will arrive in pharmacies soon after, with an anticipated generic launch date of September 2018.  

Here’s all you need to know about the upcoming generic launch of Viagra, and how to keep your costs down while you wait.

How popular is Viagra?

On GoodRx, Viagra is the third most popular PDE5 Inhibitor, a class of medications used for ED, hypertension, and enlarged prostate that also includes Cialis and Revatio. For ED in particular, Viagra is the second most popular drug after Cialis. Tens of million of American men have taken Viagra since it was introduced in 1998.

Popular, but not cheap: Since it has been available only from the brand manufacturer, cash prices for six tablets of Viagra have long been high and even increasing. Currently, the average cash price is around $73 for one tablet. What’s more, few insurance companies cover ED drugs like Viagra, forcing many people to pay out-of-pocket. The good news? A generic could hit pharmacies as soon as December 2017.

When will generic Viagra be available?

In March of 2016, Teva, a generic manufacturer, gained tentative approval for generic sildenafil from the FDA. So where is it? Unfortunately, in 2013, Teva reached a settlement agreement with Viagra manufacturer Pfizer that prohibited the generic from launching until December 2017. While this patent protection has postponed the savings, generic Viagra is close.

What will generic Viagra cost?

Generally, generic drugs first appear on the market at about a 50% discount to the brand. Unlike the brand, however, generic drug prices typically decrease very quickly as new manufacturers enter the market. Within a year of release, many generic versions of prescriptions can become very affordable, especially if multiple companies are making the generic.

One caveat for generic Viagra, though: Due to the settlement between Viagra and Teva, the generic sildenafil manufactured by Teva will be the only one on the market until April 2020. What does this mean? In short, it could mean higher prices for a good while. Fewer generic manufacturers decrease competition that drives prices down.

There is good news, though. As of 2016, at least nine other generic manufacturers have filed applications to manufacturing generic Viagra. So, as soon as Viagra’s patent expires in April 2020, more competitors will enter the space and likely drive costs down.

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Can I take generic sildenafil instead of Viagra?

You might already know that generic sildenafil is already on the market, sold as a generic to Revatio, a popular pulmonary arterial hypertension drug. Generic sildenafil is much less expensive than brand name Viagra and is prescribed off-label by some doctors to treat ED. The bad news? This generic sildenafil is approved by the FDA for the treatment of pulmonary arterial hypertension, and is only available as a 20 mg tablet (Viagra is usually taken in 50 mg doses but is also available in 25 mg and 100 mg formulations). You will need to speak with your doctor to see if could be an option for you.

For more information about using sildenafil for ED, read here.

What about over the counter Viagra?

Over the counter Viagra is on the way, but not here in the US. The UK just recently became the first country where patients can buy Viagra over the counter (OTC), without a prescription. This decision by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (the UK’s FDA) is expected to reduce the use of unregulated, black market erectile dysfunction drugs. OTC Viagra, to be sold as Viagra Connect, will be available as a 50 mg tablet for £19.99, or $26.81 US dollars, for a 4-tablet pack.  Pfizer, the drug’s maker, says it should be in UK stores by spring of 2018.

Are there any other ways to save on my ED medications?

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