Pfizer’s Viagra keeps generics at bay in China, with sales up 47%

By Emily Wasserman

Pfizer’s Viagra sales may be suffering from generic rivals in Europe. But the brand is still going gangbusters in China, helping to soften the blow.

Viagra sales in that country jumped 47% last year despite generic competition, according to IMS Health data cited by Bloomberg. That performance helped offset declines in other international markets. Changing attitudes toward sex may be helping, as the country allows more discussion on sexual health and people pay more attention to their sex lives, Max Xiaonian, deputy director of the China Sexology Association, told the news outlet.

But Pfizer’s ($PFE) education push has helped that discussion along–and kept consumers loyal to the brand, Bloomberg notes. The company in 2013 kicked off a series of awareness campaigns to get people to talk about erectile dysfunction medicines, and last year sponsored a survey about the sexual health of more than 10,000 Chinese professionals, Bloomberg reports. Pfizer also rolled out a smartphone app that offers sex tips, such as keeping cell phones turned off during sex. Altogether, the company estimates its educational efforts last year garnered 9 billion media impressions in China.

This is good news for Pfizer, as it continues to capitalize on a growing ED market in China. About 28% of Chinese men between the ages of 30 to 60 reported having erectile dysfunction, suggesting a potential urban patient population for the drug of 68 million, Bloomberg reports. And Viagra holds almost two-thirds of the ED market in China, giving it an edge on competitors such as Eli Lilly’s ($LLY) Cialis.

Strong Chinese sales for Viagra could help Pfizer offset generic competition in the U.S. when it comes along. The company struck a deal in 2013 with Teva Pharmaceutical ($TEVA), allowing the Israeli drug maker to launch a U.S. copycat in December 2017. And just last week, it inked a similar settlement with Mylan ($MYL). Pfizer is already facing generic competition in China and Europe, where Viagra is already off-patent.

http://www.fiercepharma.com/story/pfizers-viagra-keeps-generics-bay-china-sales-47/2015-05-04

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