Viagra UK patent set to expire

viagra-patent-ukIf you’re a sufferer of erectile dysfunction you’ll be thrilled to know that impotence medication is set to become a lot cheaper. The patent of the little blue pill will expire on the 21st of June 2013 and will no longer be able to monopolise the market.

The patent for Viagra currently protects the use of the revolutionary ingredient ‘Sildenafil’ and ensures that Pfizer are the only pharmaceutical company that can produce Viagra legally in the UK.

Recently in the US, Pfizer won a court case against another pharmaceutical giant Teva to maintain and extend their patent on the distribution of Viagra until 2019. In the UK however, the patent’s expiry date was not contested or appealed, failing to generate the same headlines that swept America. The end of this patent means that many pharmaceutical companies in the UK will now be able to legally bring out their own branded generic Viagra alternatives for a much lower price.

Market predictions

This is not the first time a major medication patent has expired allowing others to enter the market. A possible indicator of the Viagra market post the patent’s expiration can be derived from the end of Ibuprofen’s patent in 1995 with Boots. The end of the patent meant that many retailers, including Tesco, produced their own cheaper generic alternatives. However, many people still choose to buy Nurofen (one of the major trademark names for Ibuprofen,) even though it is more expensive. This could foreshadow what is to come in the Viagra market, with many customers still purchasing out of habit and brand loyalty.

Another indicator includes the expiration of the Viagra patent in New Zealand 2011. To combat the certainty of new entrants to the market, Pfizer released Avigra at a much lower price than Viagra, despite it containing many of the same ingredients. Perhaps this is what we can expect from Pfizer in the UK when the UK Viagra patent does expire.

Despite the patent’s expiry, other pharmaceutical companies will not be able to brand under the name Viagra and will instead have to use another name or use the technical term of the ingredient, Sildenafil Citrate. This is because Pfizer exclusively own the rights to the brand name ‘Viagra’ and they will therefore have a significant advantage because of the size and global recognition of their brand.

Is generic Viagra safe?

Prior to 2013 generic copies of Viagra were illegal and did not go through any official regulation process to certify their safety. Therefore their safety could not be guaranteed. However, since other companies have been able to produce their own alternatives, these too have had to go through the same regulation to become licensed and are therefore just as safe to take. You should always Viagra or generic versions from regulated sources such as GPhC registered UK pharmacies. Dr Fox are fully regulated in the UK to legally distribute medicines, such as Viagra and the generic versions, from a pharmacy registered with GPhC.

The patent’s knock on effect

Viagra was the first medication created for the treatment of erectile dysfunction and was incredibly successful and revolutionary. Since then other erectile dysfunction mediations have been distributed such as Cialis (The Weekend Pill) from Lilly, Levitra from Bayer, and Spedra from Vivus. The patent for Cialis (tadalafil) expired in 2017 and Levitra (vardenafil) in 2018 allowing for generic versions to become available on the market. Another erectile dysfunction tablet available is Spedra (Avanafil) whose patent will expire in 2025. With more drugs on the market there is more competition with prices reducing, particularly for the unbranded versions of the tablets, which is good news for the customers.

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