Pfizer to lose patent of drug Viagra, Indian companies gear up with copycat versions

New Delhi (TIP): With pharmaceutical giant Pfizer set to lose the patent of its blockbuster drug Viagra in
the US, Indian companies are gearing up with copycat versions of the iconic blue pill, hoping to tap into
a lucrative market.
Pfizer’s patent for the formulation of Viagra, used to treat impotence in men, ends in the US in 2020.
This will open the door for Indian companies to target the nearly 5 crore Americans who suffer from
erectile dysfunction in what is India’s largest market for exports of medicines.
Seven Indian companies have already secured the required permissions. They are among 15 companies
worldwide that have been granted approval by US health watchdog the Food and Drug Administration,
to produce sildenafil citrate, the formulation patented as Viagra.
The Indian companies in the fray to sell the blue pill are Rubicon Research, Hetero Drugs, Macleods
Pharma, Dr.Reddy’s, Aurobindo Pharma, Torrent Pharmaceuticals and Ajanta Pharma.
The Indian companies are working on strategies that could bring down the price of Viagra in the US
market by almost 99 per cent.
The pill costs about $65, or over Rs 4,400, in the US. Pfizer had itself launched a generic version of the
drug at half of the price in 2017. Even this, experts believe, won’t match the price that Indian firms could
end up offering.
The Mumbai-based Macleods Pharmaceuticals, which started medicinal exports to the US in 2012, sells
a desi version of Viagra in India as Macsutra for Rs 58 per tablet.
Ajanta Pharma, a $1.6 billion publicly-listed firm, sells its version in India under the brand name Kamagra
for Rs 32 a tablet. The Indian entry could dent Pfizer’s stranglehold on the drug. Its global sales from just
Viagra touched $1.685 billion, over Rs 10,900 crore, in 2014. According to an American company,
Transparency Market Research, the global erectile dysfunction drugs market was valued at $4.35 billion
in 2016
Niteesh Srivastava, vice president, Macleods Pharmaceuticals, admitted that the entry of Indian firms in
the US market could spark a price war. “Lower pricing is the only way to gain preference. Hence, a price
war is certain,” he says.
Srivastava added that both known and lesser-known companies will have certain advantages. “While
lesser known or relatively smaller firms will be able to crash prices due to less overhead expenditures,
pharma giants will already have a better hold on the pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs) in the US to
reach the desired negotiations,” he said.

“It is an opportunity for Indian drug makers to cash in on their R&D and pricing strength and get into the
US market for Viagra, which has largely been cartel led so far due to patent and policy regulation,” said
Sougat Chatterjee, president of TFPL, a global research consulting firm.
Source: The Print

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