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Viagra variant might help Pfizer revenue stand up

All good things come to an end — and that includes Pfizer’s run with its blockbuster drug Viagra. The drugmaker’s little blue pill did help many deal with erectile dysfunctions (and then some more!) while generating billions for the company in its two decades. With no more exclusive rights to the drug, the pharma giant is now trying to get the best out of it with a new over-the-counter version — Viagra Connect — in the United Kingdom.

Pfizer lost hold on its top product in 2012 when patent rights to Viagra were void. New competition in the market further forced Pfizer to lower the prices of its once legendary drug.

For years, Pfizer was struggling to get an over-the-counter designation for Viagra in the UK. Finally, the pharma mammoth got some relief as the drug variant will soon be available over the counter in the UK.

The drug manufacturer hopes that this move will help combat the declining sales.

Pfizer hopes high for Viagra Connect, touting the new drug variant as a new source of revenue for the company, ever since its struggle to bump sales of Viagra since 2012.

In the U.K, Pfizer’s Viagra Connect is listed as the first non-prescription erectile dysfunction drug.

The drug maker reported that in 2017, Viagra was one of the five drugs — the other four being Enbrel, Pristiq, Lyrica, and Vfend — that negatively impacted the revenue by almost $2.1 billion. During the fourth quarter of 2017, Pfizer witnessed 63% drop in total Viagra sales in the US to $102 million. Worldwide, sales of the key drug slid 45%.

Pfizer hopes Viagra Connect to help revive the company’s consumer healthcare division, which the company intends to get rid of, especially after rivals — consumer goods company Reckitt Benckiser and British pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline — withdrew from the bidding war to acquire the Pfizer asset. The drug maker hopes proceeds of about $20 billion from the consumer health unit.

But this is a double-edged sword kind of scenario. If Viagra Connect does help the earnings stand up, then Pfizer might revive the entire division rather than sell it right away. However, keeping the division would not present a pretty picture of long-term stakeholders. Let’s hope what the pharma veteran is aiming for is a short, huge value-add to a division by this move, and then dispose of it at a higher price.

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