What is generic Viagra?

The role of patent, its expiration and involvement of other drug companies

When a pharmaceutical manufacturer first develops a drug, it issues the drug under a marketing-friendly brand name.  This is almost always done under a patent (a form of intellectual property or non-physical property that is the result of creativity).  It ensures that the patent-holding company is the only one allowed to manufacture, market, sell and profit from the drug, for a limited period of years, in exchange for publishing and enabling public disclosure of the invention when the patent protection has expired.

 

In the United States, drug patents last only 20 years after the invention of the drug.  Once the patent expires, other companies are allowed to make their version of exactly the same active ingredient of the branded drug, under a non-branded name of the active ingredient.  These non-branded drugs are known as generic drugs and their manufacturers, generic companies.  

 

The benefit of offering generic drugs is that it removes the monopoly of the patent-holding company, encouraging competition and causing drug prices to drop to a better price. This allows people who need the drug to decide for themselves which drug is best for their symptoms and budget.

 

In the case of Viagra, it was issued in 2002 as a brand name for the drug, sildenafil citrate, which was first patented by the pharmaceutical company, Pfizer Inc in May 1994 and approved by the Drug Administration (FDA) on March 27, 1998, for the treatment of erectile dysfunction (ED). 

 

The Viagra patent was originally scheduled to expire in March 2012, but Pfizer filed a second patent, which will expire in 2019. The Viagra patent has been extended and will expire in April 2020. In 2013, Pfizer entered into an agreement with Teva Pharmaceuticals, which allowed Teva to bring a non-branded version of the active ingredient of Viagra (sildenafil citrate) to the US market by the end of 2017, under the generic (non-branded) name, Sildenafil, which is also referred to as generic Viagra.

 

As of March 2016, at least nine other companies filed applications with the FDA to manufacture the same non-branded version of sildenafil citrate.  In December 2017, Pfizer released its own generic Viagra, marketed as the little white pill (the branded Viagra being known as the little blue pill).

 

The patent for Viagra has expired outside the U.S.  It ended in Europe in June 2013, allowing generic manufacturers to start producing their own version of generic Viagra or Sildenafil.

 

So, generic Viagra is the non-branded version of the branded Viagra manufactured by generic companies and Pfizer itself, when the Viagra patent has expired or under agreements between Pfizer and generic companies.  It contains exactly the same active ingredient of the branded Viagra (sildenafil citrate) and therefore marketed under the generic name, Sildenafil.  Generic Viagra or Sildenafil is available at a significantly reduced price of the branded Viagra, the brand name of which is only allowed to be used by Pfizer.

 

References

  1. EVERYDAY HEALTH, Generic Viagra: What Does It Mean for You? [website] 2017, https://www.everydayhealth.com/sexual-health/treatment/generic-viagra-what-does-it-mean-you/, (accessed September 20, 2019).
  2. Eureka, PatSnap Insights: Pfizer's Viagra Patent Expires, [website] 2017, https://www.patsnap.com/blog/patsnap-insights-pfizers-viagra-patent-expires, (accessed September 20, 2019).
  3. Forbes, Viagra: Get Ready For It To Become Generic, Cheaper, And More Available, [website] 2017, https://www.forbes.com/sites/brucelee/2017/12/06/viagra-get-ready-for-it-to-becomes-generic-cheaper-and-more-available/#69d05dee3200, (accessed September 20, 2019).
  4. Everyday Health, Pfizer Launches Generic Viagra, [website] 2017, https://www.everydayhealth.com/erectile-dysfunction/treatment/pfizer-launches-generic-viagra/, (accessed September 20, 2019).
  5. MedicalXpress, Viagra goes generic: Pfizer to launch own little white pill, [website] 2017, https://medicalxpress.com/news/2017-12-viagra-pfizer-white-pill.html, (accessed September 20, 2019).
  6. IPWATCHDOG, What happens when lifestyle drugs like Viagra and Cialis lose patent protections? [website] 2017, https://www.ipwatchdog.com/2017/04/12/lifestyle-drugs-viagra-cialis-lose-patent-protections/id=81619/, (accessed September 19, 2019).
  7. ipeg, VIAGRA EXTENDED PATENT PROTECTION, GENERIC WAIT UNTIL 2020, [website] 2013, https://www.ipeg.com/viagra-extended-patent-protection-generic-wait-until-2020/, (accessed September 19, 2019).

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