Published On December 23, 2019

Is Sildenafil As Good As Viagra?

Viagra is the best-known medication for erectile dysfunction. The little blue pill, as it is called, contains an active ingredient called sildenafil citrate along with other inactive compounds. It is the sildenafil citrate in Viagra pills that has a positive effect on impotence. What is the difference between generic sildenafil and brand name Viagra? Is one as good as the other for the treatment of erectile dysfunction?

What is the difference between sildenafil and Viagra?

Sildenafil was discovered incidentally as a treatment for erectile dysfunction (ED). The pharmaceutical giant, Pfizer, was developing a drug to treat high blood pressure and chest pain.1 During clinical trials, it was discovered that the medication was effective in inducing erections. The company filed a patent to sell it as an ED drug. In 1998, Pfizer received FDA approval to market the drug under the brand name Viagra with the active ingredient sildenafil citrate for the treatment of erectile dysfunction. It was the first drug in the class of PDE5 inhibitors and the first oral tablet for ED. It took the world of male sexual health by storm, becoming the fastest-selling drug in history. Over the past two decades, Viagra has consistently generated annual sales of billions of dollars.

Pfizer’s patent for Viagra in the United States was originally scheduled to expire in 2012, but was extended up to 2020.2 The generic form of the drug (sildenafil citrate) became available in other countries, such as Canada, Australia, UK, and Europe in 2012-2013.3 In the US, Pfizer entered into an agreement with Teva Pharmaceuticals to market the generic formulation. From 2020 onwards, other pharmaceutical manufacturers will be able to make their own generic Viagra.3 This is good news for men with erectile dysfunction because both sildenafil and Viagra are as good as each other, but while a single tablet of the brand name drug costs as much as $75, the generic form is available for less than $5.

Are Viagra and sildenafil equally effective for erectile dysfunction?

Generic medications work in the same way as their brand name counterparts. They offer the same benefits and are tested rigorously for dosage, safety, strength, stability, and performance.4 Chemically, both Pfizer Viagra and generic sildenafil are the same. Both are as good as each other in treating impotence. However, if you switch from one to the other, it is important to make sure you take the same dose (25 mg, 50 mg, or 100 mg) as prescribed by your physician, to get similar benefits. 

Sildenafil is available under another brand name Revatio at lower doses.5 This drug is used to treat pulmonary arterial hypertension and improve exercise capacity in adults. Since the active ingredient in both Revatio and Viagra is the same, i.e., sildenafil, they should not be taken together unless prescribed by a doctor.

Fake Viagra and Sildenafil: The Real Danger

In the United States, ED treatments Viagra and sildenafil are prescription medications. In the United Kingdom, the drug is also available over-the-counter under the name Viagra Connect in a 50-mg dose. However, drug enforcement authorities worldwide are facing a significant problem due to a thriving counterfeit market in erectile dysfunction pills. In one week alone in 2016, Health Canada seized $2.5 million worth of fake pharmaceuticals, 98 percent of which were sexual enhancement and ED treatments. Globally, the fake drug trade is estimated at more than $50 million.6

Some men are reluctant to talk about erectile dysfunction with their partners and doctors. Instead, they turn to dubious online pharmacies to purchase Viagra. Many don’t realize they are buying fakes – the knock-offs are convincing with authentic-looking logos and packaging. Others believe what they are buying is as good as the real thing and approved by the authorities. The large price difference is tempting, no doubt – an authentic Viagra pill can cost anywhere from $35 to $75 while fake ones sell for as little as $1 to $3 a pill. The risk is that a counterfeit sildenafil pill may not contain enough of the active ingredient, making it ineffective, or it may contain other potentially harmful substances, making it dangerous. The manufacturing process of counterfeit drugs is unverified and fake sildenafil can potentially kill you.6

Both brand name Viagra and generic sildenafil are approved treatments for erectile dysfunction and as good as each other in terms of efficacy and safety. The important thing is to obtain these medications from proper sources, with a prescription, and to take them as directed by your doctor.

References:

  1. https://www.drugs.com/slideshow/viagra-little-blue-pill-1043
  2. https://www.theguardian.com/science/2019/jun/09/race-to-replace-viagra-patents-erectile-dysfunction-drug-medical-research-cialis-eroxon
  3. https://www.drugs.com/medical-answers/generic-viagra-available-2933640/
  4. https://www.fda.gov/drugs/generic-drugs/generic-drug-facts
  5. https://www.drugs.com/revatio.html
  6. https://nationalpost.com/news/politics/canada-fights-influx-of-fake-viagra-as-erectile-dysfunction-creates-perfect-storm-for-counterfeiters