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Why Do Prices Vary Amongst Erectile Dysfunction Treatments?

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One of our resident Doctors, Dr Mitra Dutt, is answering a regular question and answer with our patients. You can log in to your Patient Record if you would like to ask one of our clinicians a question about your treatment.

Branded vs Generic Medicines

Erectile dysfunction treatments can be sold either as a branded medication (e.g. Cialis) or a generic medication (e.g. Tadalafil). From a consumer perspective, the different names may suggest two different medications; in reality generic equivalents of branded medicines work in exactly the same way, because they contain the same active ingredient.

When a new treatment such as Cialis is discovered, the pharmaceutical company that manufactured the treatment takes out a patent, which prevents other pharmaceutical companies from distributing and marketing the treatment’s active ingredient for a set amount of time. Only when a patent expires are other pharmaceutical companies allowed to market their own generic versions of the medication. Any generic version of the treatment must work in the same way as the branded version.

As an example, Cialis was developed by the pharmaceutical company Lilly; researchers at Lilly discovered that Tadalafil – the active ingredient of Cialis – could be used to treat erectile dysfunction. Once the patent on Cialis expired, other companies began to develop and distribute generic Cialis (labelled as Tadalafil) at a lower cost. Another example of a generic medication is Sildenafil, which was originally developed by Pfizer and is still sold under the brand name Viagra.

Generic treatments are manufactured so that they meet a certain set of standards:

  • They must meet all of the same safety requirements as the branded version of the treatment
  • The strength of the active ingredient is the same in both the generic and the branded treatment
  •  How the medication is taken is the same for both (for example, both Viagra and Sildenafil should be taken on an empty stomach)
  •  The same quality checks must be met for every version of the treatment that comes to market
  • Generic and branded versions of the same treatment must work in the same way
  • Both medications must share the same intended use i.e. Sildenafil (generic Viagra) must be prescribed to treat erectile dysfunction

Generic medications are typically cheaper than their branded equivalents (but not always). Branded treatments are usually more expensive because of the initial costs involved in developing, marketing, and selling the branded medication. Generic drug manufacturers can develop and sell generic medications at a much lower cost, not because the quality is inferior, but because the original manufacturer has already paid to discover and develop the original prescription drug from scratch. 

It's similar to when you visit the supermarket and choose between buying branded goods or the supermarket's own label products. The supermarket version is usually cheaper as they are replicating a product that has already been tried and tested.

Generic and Branded ED Treatments Available from LloydsPharmacy Online Doctor

Currently, LloydsPharmacy Online Doctor can prescribe two generic erectile dysfunction treatments: Sildenafil and Tadalafil.  The branded equivalent of Sildenafil is Viagra, and the branded equivalent of Tadalafil is Cialis.  We also offer the branded drugs Levitra and Spedra (the generic versions for both of these medications are not yet available).

If you’re considering receiving treatment for your erectile dysfunction, visit our ED clinic to take a free assessment.