Pharmaceutical companies launch generic Viagra as UK patent expires

27th June 2013 (Last Updated June 27th, 2013 18:30)

Pharmaceutical companies have launched generic version of Pfizer's Viagra (sildenafil), prescribed to treat erectile dysfunction, in European markets immediately after its patent expired in the region.

Pharmaceutical companies have launched generic version of Pfizer's Viagra (sildenafil), prescribed to treat erectile dysfunction, in European markets immediately after its patent expired in the region.

Teva Pharmaceutical Industries introduced generic sildenafil in Germany, the UK, Italy, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Ireland, Austria, Belgium and Denmark, in addition to Spain and Canada where the drug is already available.

Actavis launched Sildenafil Actavis 25mg, 50mg and 100mg tablets in 11 Western-European markets including Austria, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the UK.

The patent for Viagra in the UK expired earlier in June this year, opening gates for generic versions, which are expected to cost as low as £1 each against nearly £9 for Viagra.

The sales of Viagra for the 12 months ended 31 March 2013 in Europe were €382.2m, according to IMS Health data.

Commenting on the expiry of the patent, intellectual property firm Marks & Clerk said the life sciences sector found the patent cliff to be one of the most substantial problems facing the drug industry.

Marks & Clerk patent attorney Dominic Icely said, "The twenty years' protection afforded by patents held by pharmaceutical companies on key drugs has been invaluable in recouping investment in research and development and in generating revenues that can then be ploughed into new research.

"So, whilst there is a real need for continued investment in innovation, big pharma is also having to devise alternative methods for driving business forward."