Erectile dysfunction is not considered a serious health problem by most insurance companies. That’s because few, if any, are willing to pay for ED drugs like sildenafil (Viagra), tadalafil (Cialis) or vardenafil (Levitra). As a result, men who have a hard time achieving or maintaining an erection are on their own. One reader wants to know why the cost of ED drugs is so high?
Why Are ED Drugs Priced So Close?
Q. Drugs for erectile dysfunction are all extremely expensive. Are their prices being fixed, as I suspect? The price has steadily increased to about $60 a pill. And the prices are virtually the same for each brand name drug. This has been the case as soon as three ED drugs became available. This can’t be by coincidence!
I’ve tried to interest my Congressmen and senators about this but have had no response whatsoever. Can you spur a Congressional investigation?
A. Drugs for erectile dysfunction are indeed pricey. A single 10 mg dose of Cialis (tadalafil) costs about $60. Levitra (vardenafil) is also nearly $60 a pill. As you have noted, brand name Viagra (sildenafil) is in the same ballpark. The generic version is substantially less expensive, however.
What Happened To Competition and Free Market Capitalism?
We have no way of determining how drug companies adjust their prices. Competition is supposed to lead to lower prices, but it doesn’t seem to work that way for many brand name prescription drugs.
Many brand name antidepressants range in price from around $300 to $400 for a month’s supply. One would think that if capitalism were working, the maker of Prozac would reduce the price of its pills to gain competitive advantage over the makers of Cymbalta, Lexapro, Pristiq or Zoloft. Such is not the case.
What About Generic Drugs?
Generic drugs are not immune. Last spring, 45 states and the Department of Justice uncovered a bid-rigging scheme that may have cost consumers and businesses a billion dollars. The prosecutors found evidence regarding the antibiotic doxycycline, but other generic drugs were probably also affected.
Are There Solutions to Pricey Pills?
Readers have come up with some creative ways to beat the high cost of ED drugs.
Marilyn in Houston is using sildenafil for another reason:
“I read your column today in the Houston Chronicle about high drug prices for ED drugs and wanted to share my experience with buying sildenafil at a significantly lower price. I am a woman and am taking sildenafil for off-label purposes (severe Raynaud’s with fingertip ulcers). My insurance company would not cover it. My regular pharmacy was going to charge me $1000 for sixty 50 mg pills!
“My doctor’s office told me about www.goodrx.com, and I was able to get this same prescription for $30 at a different pharmacy. The website basically does the price comparison for you. I don’t know if you are able to share this information on your website or in your column, but being able to easily shop around for the cheapest drug price can make all the difference in being able to afford the drug or not.
“There is also www.blinkhealth.com, but I have not tried them yet.”
Rick came up with a different solution:
“Your recent article about the exorbitant cost of these drugs does not address the savings if purchased from a Canadian pharmacy. Rather than $60 per pill, A Canadian pharmacy sells brand Levitra for $16 per pill.”
You can learn more about online Canadian pharmacies in our Guide to Saving Money on Medicine. Not all websites that proclaim they are in Canada are legitimate. There are a lot of counterfeit ED drugs sold on the Internet. Please be careful when trying to save money.
To learn about more about one ED drug that can be purchased more affordably you may wish to read our article:
You will discover that one company (Greenstone) makes a generic version of Viagra that is identical to the brand name product. That’s because it is an authorized generic. It is much less expensive than Viagra, however.
Share your own money-saving strategies in the comment section below.