Font Size A A A

When is the UK Viagra patent due to expire?

Published : Friday August 10, 2012 | Posted in : Men's Health

UPDATE: The Viagra patent in the UK has now expired and it is now legal for other pharmaceutical companies to manufacture and market generic medications for impotence that contain sildenafil. You can find out more about sildenafil here.

If you have any kind of a vested interest in impotence medication, whether as a patient, supplier or manufacturer, chances are you have been following the speculation regarding the forthcoming expiration of the Viagra patent – arguably the most crucial legal weapon Pfizer owns; the lynchpin on which its greatest success depends. The discussion has centred around exactly when the patent – or patents, in some cases – will expire.

Viagra UK patent expiry

What we know in the UK

Information regarding the Viagra patent in the UK is scarce. This may be because there has not been an attempt to contest or extend the existing patent, both of which caused the issue of the Viagra patent to remain in the headlines in the United States. Though the Viagra patent in the US has been extended, this is not the case in the UK.

The UK Viagra patent, which protects the ingredient sildenafil, is due to expire on 21st June 2013.

Until this date, Pfizer is the only pharmaceutical company that can legally produce and market Viagra in the UK. You can purchase genuine, branded Viagra here at HealthExpress. Any website that claims to offer a generic alternative to Viagra is operating illegally.

The US effect

The problem with much of the discussion relating to the patent issue, at least that which is found online, is that it tends to be very US-centric, with much of the information that is available restricted to US law and US patents. While decisions regarding patents for medications in the US are undoubtedly important, particularly as they often act as a kind of precursor for similar decisions that are then made in other parts of the world, in real terms they are of little use to people following the discussion here in the UK.

What we do know is that in the United States the question of when exactly the Viagra patent will expire has largely been resolved, following a court battle between Pfizer and generics manufacturer Teva Pharmaceuticals. In anticipation of the upcoming patent expiry, due in 2012, Teva prepared to create and market a generic version of Viagra. Pfizer then successfully sued Teva on the grounds of patent infringement, citing a second patent which was not due for expiry until 2019. This means that Pfizer maintains exclusive rights to market Viagra (that is, its active ingredient sildenafil) as an erectile dysfunction treatment in the United States.

A further six month extension has since been granted to this patent due to Pfizer's ongoing research into the use of sildenafil in children with pulmonary hypertension. This means that Pfizer's patent protection for Viagra is now valid for at least eight more years, meaning that it will continue to be illegal for any pharmaceutical company to attempt to manufacture or market a generic alternative.

Why is the expiration of the Viagra patent so important?

Viagra was the very first medication to be launched for the purpose of treating erectile dysfunction, and it has been one of Pfizer's most successful products since its introduction in 1998. However, much of this success is due to the existence of the patent, which prevents any other company from manufacturing an erectile dysfunction treatment using sildenafil, the active ingredient.

When the patent expires, it will become possible for any pharmaceutical company to produce generic alternatives to Viagra, which will likely be significantly cheaper. This will likely have the knock on effect of bringing down the price of the other branded erectile dysfunction medications, Levitra and Cialis, even if they still enjoy the protection of a patent. The patent that protects Cialis (tadalafil) is due to expire in 2017, while the patent for Levitra (vardenafil) will expire in 2018.

What effect will the patent expiry have?

The first patent expiration for Viagra in the world happened in New Zealand in 2011. Pfizer responded to the inevitability of generic alternatives being launched by creating its own version, Avigra, which contained the same ingredients as Viagra but was marketed at a much lesser cost. This decision, which is not as counterproductive as it may first appear, is an indication of how Pfizer will likely react when the other patents expire in larger countries like the US, where they have a much larger market.

comments powered by Disqus
Search