Viagra is getting a cheaper, generic makeover from Pfizer in an effort to preempt competitors.Pfizer has repackaged its famous little blue impotence pill in a white tablet, called sildenafil, and will slash the$65-a-pill retail price of its blockbuster drug by half starting Monday.The pharmaceutical giant's patent for Viagra is set to expire next week, opening the flood gates for competitors to jump into the market with their cheaper generic versions.Rather than lose most of its sales to other companies, Pfizer is banking on the lower price point of and the 40 percent of its customer base that claims to be loyal to Viagra to help the company ride the wave of generics slated to undercut Viagra's prices by as much as 90 percent.'Patients are paying fortunes. When generic Viagra comes out, they will be very happy,' said Dr Nachum Katlowitz, a urologist at New York's Staten Island University Hospital.Launched in 1998, Viagra was the first pill for impotence. It transformed a private frustration for many aging men into a publicly discussed medical condition with an easy treatment, far more appealing than options like penile injections and implants. Pfizer's early TV ads for the little blue pill even coined the term erectile dysfunction, ED for short.Eli Lilly's Cialis came out in 2003 and now dominates the U.S. market with on-demand pills and daily, low-dose ones. Viagra is a close second.Pfizer says its market research shows 20 percent of customers are loyal to Viagra. So rather than give up sales to generic makers as brand-name drug makers once routinely did, the company is selling its own generic and also fighting to keep men on its blue pills.'We believe that the story for Viagra isn't done. It's just going to be a new chapter,' said Jim Sage, president of U.S. brands for Pfizer Essential Health, which sells its older medicines.In January, the drug maker will offer two new discount programs and increase its co-payment card discounts. Uninsured men can get brand-name Viagra half off through an innovative online home delivery program, Pfizer Direct. Many insured patients will be able to get a month's prescription - typically six to 10 pills, depending on plan limits - for as little as a $20 co-payment.'This is the most comprehensive pricing and marketing response I've seen to a generic,' said Erik Gordon, a pharmaceuticals analyst at the University of Michigan's business school. 'It's unprecedented.'Gordon thinks Pfizer's reduced prices will retain some patients and attract others who buy pills, often counterfeits, from the internet.Dr. Matthias Hofer, a urologist at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago, said some of his insured patients who take Viagra wouldn't want a generic. 'They will be ecstatic if they can save money and get the brand product from Pfizer,' he said.Last year, more than 12 million prescriptions for Viagra and Cialis were filled in the US, generating a combined $3 billion in sales, according to health data and clinical resea
Patients taking Viagra are less likely to suffer a heart attack, new research claims.
Men taking the impotence drug were found to have a lower risk of having a heart attack or dying from heart failure than those not on the medication.
The findings mean Viagra could soon be used to treat hundreds of thousands of heart failure patients and even prevent fatal heart attacks, scientists say.
Experts from the University of Manchester studied 6,000 diabetic patients who had been given Viagra to treat erectile dysfunction.
The drug relaxes muscle cells in the blood vessels supplying the penis, allowing more blood to flow there.
This increased blood flow increases the likelihood of getting an erection.
Given the increasing reports of deaths in which the use of Viagra may be implicated, clinicians need to exercise caution when advising their patients with heart
Experts believe a key ingredient in Viagra called PDE5i, which relaxes blood vessels, also prevents damage to heart cells.
Heart failure is caused by the heart failing to pump enough blood around the body at the right pressure.
It most often occurs because the heart muscle has become too weak or stiff to work properly and is usually treated with medication which supports the heart.
Despite diabetics being prone to heart problems, the study participants did not suffer as many incidents as similar patients not on the drug.