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Viagra Connect sales soar following pharmacy launch

Market analysts have witnessed “firm growth” in Viagra sales since it launched in pharmacies, and erectile dysfunction conversations are “picking up”, pharmacists have said.

According to research by market analysts IRI, sales of the erectile dysfunction drug reached £4.3 million in the 12 weeks after the product – Viagra Connect – became available to purchase over the counter (OTC) in pharmacies across the UK.

The increase in unit sales “suggest that more men are becoming increasingly proactive about seeking treatment for the condition”, IRI said.

IRI analysed electronic point of sale (EPOS) data from supermarkets and leading pharmacies across the UK, including Boots, Lloydspharmacy and Superdrug. It found that sales of family planning products in pharmacies – which includes Viagra Connect – grew 18.8% in the last 12 months, from £6.23m to £7.4m.

Total sales for the family planning category in all retailers grew by more than 4% year-on-year, from £63.4m in 2017, to £66.3m in 2018.

Pfizer launched Viagra Connect in the UK on March 27, following a reclassification from a pharmacy-only medicine (POM) to one available to purchase in pharmacies (P). Pfizer initially struck an exclusive two-week deal to supply the medicine in Boots pharmacies, before the medicine became available to buy in pharmacies across the UK in April.

A four-tablet pack of Viagra Connect retails at £19.99 and an eight-tablet pack is £34.99.

Increase in conversations

Sadik Al-Hassan, pharmacist manager at a Well branch in Kingswood, Bristol, said he has sold “two or three” packs of Viagra Connect since the launch – but has had “about 10 conversations [with patients] specifically” about erectile dysfunction.

Mike Hewitson, superintendent and managing director of Beaminster Pharmacy in Dorset, has also had “a good number of conversations with customers”. It was a “slow start but [it’s] picking up now”, he added.

PGD opportunity

Rifat Asghar-Hussain, owner of three pharmacies across England, said pharmacists had sold “around 10” packs of Viagra Connect in her branches. She suggested that given the growing interest, some pharmacies may opt to offer a patient group direction (PGD) for the generic drug, sildenafil, because of the “better profit margin” this would provide.

Nat Mitchell, pharmacist and director of JWW Allison & Sons Ltd in Cockermouth, Cumbria, told C+D he has also “seen quite a few patients” since the launch of Viagra Connect – and his pharmacy uses a PGD, as “it gives us more control”.

However, Hallam Wiltshire, pharmacist manager at Matlock Pharmacy in Brighton, said he prefers to sell Viagra Connect as an OTC medicine rather than use a PGD, “as it allows for quicker, more consistent access to what are actually relatively safe medicines”.

“PGDs may give more freedom and choice, but they require the correct pharmacist to be on site as well as much more time for a consultation,” he stressed.

“At least one query a week” and customer backlash

Do you know how to counsel men with erectile dysfunction? Take C+D’s update module here.

Have you received many enquiries from customers about Viagra Connect?

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