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May 29, 2005

Erectile Dysfunction Drugs; No Growth

Posted in: Business,Healthcare

Even before the announcement last week regarding a possible connection of Viagra to blindness; one might say the erectile dysfunction drug market was soft.

A sales plunge tied to Friday’s revelations isn’t expected because the incidence of blindness is so rare. The Food and Drug Administration said it has received a total of 42 reports of blindness, 38 among users of Pfizer Inc.’s Viagra, 4 among Cialis users and one for Levitra. In contrast, over 23 million men have taken Viagra while 5 million have used Cialis.

During the first quarter, both sales and prescriptions for the drugs grew only 1 percent in the United States, according to IMS Health, a pharmaceutical marketing and consulting company.

When Cialis and Levitra debuted in second half of 2003, joining market leader Viagra, analysts expected the market would expand as their makers poured money into advertising in the hopes of drawing more of the approximately 30 million American men with erectile dysfunction into doctors’ offices.

These are the most over-advertised medications on the market. I cannot go through one TV show anymore without seeing an ad for erectile dysfunction. I am still trying to understand marketing this product to individuals and not medical providers. To attain these drugs one needs a prescription from a physician not just your typical ad on the TV where the consumer just goes and buys the product themselves. Ease up on the ads as they are a waste of money and have been proved to have “no bang for the buck”.

The advertising flood materialized: erectile dysfunction drugs were the second most heavily advertised category of drugs last year with a total $382 million spent. But there have not been large numbers of additional patients, turning the market into a turf war to grab the limited number of males who want treatment.

“We thought that given the number of untreated men, we really thought there would be more use of the products,” said David Moskowitz, an analyst at Friedman Billings, Ramsey, who now expects total prescriptions to advance only 1 percent to 2 percent this year.

This industry thinks their market is weak now, wait until state’s Medicaid programs stop reimbursing. Now that’s going to leave a mark.

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