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NPA: Boots' exclusive Viagra Connect deal disadvantages independents

A four-tablet pack of Viagra Connect will retail for £19.99
A four-tablet pack of Viagra Connect will retail for £19.99

Pfizer’s exclusive two-week deal to offer the UK’s first Viagra pharmacy (P) medicine through Boots stores is “disappointing”, the National Pharmacy Association (NPA) has said.

In November, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) announced that 50mg film-coated sildenafil tablets would be reclassified as a P medicine, and sold under the brand Viagra Connect, manufactured by Pfizer.

The product – which launches today (March 27) – will be “available in pharmacy and online from Boots exclusively for a two-week period, prior to being made available from wider pharmacies”, Pfizer announced.

NPA: “Restricting patient choice”

NPA chairman Ian Strachan branded Pfizer’s decision “incredibly disappointing”.

“Deals like this restrict patient choice and undermine confidence in independent community pharmacies,” he claimed.

“Furthermore, it points towards an inherent unfairness whereby vertically integrated companies can steal a march on their competitors with this type of sweetheart deal.”

While independents will be able to sell Viagra Connect from April 11, the NPA claimed “it could take other pharmacies significantly longer before their staff are trained and able to dispense the product”.

“A great step”

Boots UK pharmacy director Richard Bradley said the launch of Viagra Connect is “a great step in making this medicine more widely available to our customers”.

“Boots is the leading pharmacy-led health and beauty retailer in the UK with over 2,500 stores, making this medicine widely accessible,” Mr Bradley said.

“The launch further expands the role of community pharmacy and we hope that it will play a part in reducing pressures on the overall healthcare system.”

Pfizer responds

Responding to the NPA’s comments, Pfizer consumer healthcare UK general manager Paul Rose said the manufacturer is “keen to expand supply as quickly as possible to wider pharmacies via our usual channels” once the exclusive deal ends on April 11.

“We are certainly committed to helping independent pharmacists make the most of the launch of Viagra Connect,” Mr Rose added. “We will continue to hold discussions with all pharmacy organisations as we move forward with the supply of [this product].”

RRP and training

A four-tablet pack of Viagra Connect will retail for £19.99 and an eight-tablet pack for £34.99, according to Pfizer.

To support the launch, the manufacturer unveiled an “extensive” training programme for the product earlier this month (March 12), including e-learning modules, face-to-face sessions and regional meetings.

Digital training – available via hcp.viagraconnect.co.uk – includes videos, interactive content and print-and-keep resources, Pfizer explained. The site also includes the Viagra Connect checklist.

10 Comments
Question: 
What do you make of Pfizer's exclusive deal?

Olukunmi Popoola, Community pharmacist

I will not be stocking this item as I can supply it for less via PGD

Amal England, Public Relations

Pfizer....could you please extrapolate on "extensive training".

Shamir Patel, Community pharmacist

Thought Pfizer might have learnt a few lessons after the DTP debacle. Obviously not! Offer Boots 2 weeks exclusivity and all pre-market hype. Can’t wait for the Perrigo or Bristol generic. Does anyone remember when Diflucan was a brand leader at £12.50. Where is that now! Same will happen to Viagra Connect!

Arun Bains, Community pharmacist

They clearly came to a hard decision. Imagine there wasn’t much stiff competition for the big boys. Stories like this are important... keep it up!

Mr CAUSTIC, Community pharmacist

Arun the  double entendre expert ! If sales don't pick up quickly will it result in a flop ? Will the generic sales competition on PGD droop. Will the new condom filled with a nitrate gel provide stiff completion when it is launched ? will the digital training help . if so how many digits ?  

 

Barry Pharmacist, Community pharmacist

As an independent I will not stock it anyway. I'm offering an excellent private PGD service with far better margin and a wider range of molecules.

Mr CAUSTIC, Community pharmacist

Not a problem.sign up with fast Dr and get patient to go on line and order generic. Costs 5£ for fast Dr and pennies for drug.tell patient doing it this way will be much cheaper.or do a PGD.

Do attend the excellent  training evening for Viagra as it is very informative and worthwhile.

In fact when patients come in after the 2 weeks boots trial tell them all to sign up with fast Dr for the generic .it will be more profitable for the pharmacy and for the patient.

Big pharma can do deals with the multiples but cannot expect the independents to promote their products.

David Moore, Locum pharmacist

Not many men will be buying this at these prices. Think this will be a flash in the pan.

A Hussain, Senior Management

I'd encourage other independents to get a PGD set their own prices and gain control of the situation.  How long before Viagra Connect is out of stock? 

Dave Downham, Manager

Just remind me who the sole distributer for Pfizer is? Only surprise is that it's only a 2 week deal.

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