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Yes, There Is a Way to Get Generic Viagra

If you’re looking for a less costly Viagra, you might want to ask your doctor about sildenafil—it’s the generic version of the drug Revatio, approved to treat pulmonary arterial hypertension. Sildenafil is also the same active ingredient that’s in the brand-name erectile dysfunction drug, Viagra. (Generic sildenafil as Revatio is available only in a 20-mg strength, while Viagra comes in 25-, 50-, and 100-mg doses).

For those who pay out-of-pocket (your insurance may not cover it unless you have pulmonary arterial hypertension), the generic version is way less expensive than Viagra—we found it for less than $1 per pill compared to almost $50 per pill for the branded version. So, if your doctor says it’s OK, you could save a lot.

“Since sildenafil by any other name is still sildenafil, the results should be the same,” says Consumer Reports’ chief medical adviser, Marvin M. Lipman, M.D. “The 5-mg difference between sildenafil and the lowest dose of Viagra could easily be made up by taking an extra half pill, if needed."

If you’re holding out for a generic version and dosing of branded Viagra, you’ll have to wait until December 2017. That's because Pfizer, the maker of both Revatio and Viagra, maintains exclusive rights to Viagra’s patent through 2020—originally set to expire in 2012—after suing generic drugmaker Teva in 2010 for patent infringement. While the terms of the settlement are confidential, Teva will have to pay Pfizer a royalty for a license to produce the generic in 2017, according to statements by both companies.

Don’t Fall for 'Cheap Viagra'

An online search for “generic Viagra” and or “cheap Viagra” will lead you to a plethora of websites (some claiming to operate out of Canada) selling deeply discounted pills without a prescription. But don’t be tempted—most of these online pharmacies are not legitimate.

The Food and Drug Administration urges you avoid supplement versions as well. Hundreds of “herbal” or “all-natural” supplements that promise to enhance sexual performance contain undisclosed drug ingredients, combinations of undisclosed ingredients or excessively high doses, and even unknown contaminants. For example, one of the tainted products recently tested by the FDA included 31 times the prescription dose of tadalafil (the generic version of the drug Cialis), in combination with dapoxetine, an antidepressant that is not approved by FDA.

Use ED Drugs Cautiously

Before relying on a pill to manage erectile dysfunction (ED), consider nondrug treatments first. Studies shows that reducing blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and weight, stopping smoking, exercising more, and rigorously treating diabetes—may help correct ED. A 2011 review published in JAMA Internal Medicine found an association between lifestyle changes and improved ED symptoms. Therapy or counseling might also help some people. If those measures don’t work, your doctor should assess your risk of heart disease, review all of your medications for possible interactions, and rule out other medications as the cause for experiencing ED.

While the ED drugs are effective, our medical experts warn that they should be used cautiously since they can cause potentially serious side effects. The risks may include an increased chance of heart attack or stroke among men already at risk of such events—including those with coronary disease—as well as fertility problems and worsened sleep apnea. In some men, the drugs may also cause temporary vision or hearing problems. And they can interact with many medications, most notably nitrates (used to relieve angina) and certain herbs, such as including St. John's wort.

Editor's Note: These materials were made possible by a grant from the state Attorney General Consumer and Prescriber Education Grant Program, which is funded by a multistate settlement of consumer fraud claims regarding the marketing of the prescription drug Neurontin (gabapentin).



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