The following year U.S. sales of Viagra suffered declining 73 percent year over year from nearly $800 million to $217 million.
But Pfizer knew this was coming. So in late 2017, before it lost exclusive rights the drug maker said it would produce a generic version of the little blue pill.
The drug was called Sildenafil and was half the cost of Viagra.
This change in strategy spared Pfizer from losing most of its market share since it could compete in the generic market. As of 2019 Pfizer's strategy worked.
65 percent of prescriptions filled from late 2018 to the end of January 2019 were for Viagra or its generic version.
30 percent of prescriptions were for rival Cialis and its generic Tadalafil.
Levitra and generic Vardenafil came in third at 5 percent of the market.
I think Viagra has been able to capture a larger or retain a larger part of the market share than we would see it for another branded drug for let's say high blood pressure high cholesterol when generics enter.
But it's also the case that we haven't seen as much generic entry yet as we will see in the next five to ten years.
And I expect that its position as a market leader would fall.
Other factors also help Pfizer. For one it's one of the most recognizable brands for E.D. treatment.
There's also the rise of direct to consumer startups to consider for example Get Roman is a telemedicine provider that connects patients to doctors online to offer maximum privacy and convenience.
They've removed the middleman such as drugstores and have allowed customers to buy E.D. meds online.
Pfizer also hopped on this strategy. It widened the availability of its brand name drug online.