Date
20 November 2017
With Pfizer's Viagra patent right expiring in China, mainland drug makers are preparing to launch their own versions of the male pill. Photo: Bloomberg
With Pfizer's Viagra patent right expiring in China, mainland drug makers are preparing to launch their own versions of the male pill. Photo: Bloomberg

The little blue pill will soon see a pink rival

Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer’s patent right for the erectile dysfunction (ED) drug Viagra expired in China last month. That puts an end to the 13-year-wait of mainland drug firms who had been eyeing the lucrative market themselves. Reports have it that the first local version of Viagra will be out in the market as soon as this year-end.

About 10 percent of men around the world suffer from erectile dysfunction, according to data from the World Health Organization. If we apply this ratio to China, the ED drugs market could be worth as much as 100 billion yuan. Domestic firms, not surprisingly, are eager to carve out a slice of the pie.

Guangzhou Baiyunshan Pharmaceutical is one of the earliest movers. The group is ready to launch its ED drug; it is just awaiting approval from authorities.

The ED drug manufactured by Baiyunshan will be named ‘Jinge’, which literally means ‘golden sword’ in Chinese.

To differentiate itself from Pfizer’s Viagra, Jinge will be pink in color, and the selling price will be set in a range of 60-70 yuan per pill, about half that of Viagra.

Besides Baiyunshan, there are at least 10 more domestic brands lining up to launch their own versions of Viagra. Prices are therefore set to fall.

A local newspaper in Jilin, Xin Wen Hua, quoted a Viagra customer as saying that he consumes four pills per month at most. Each pill costs him around 130 yuan which is quite expensive for him, as his monthly income is just 2,400 yuan. Overall, Viagra takes up over 21 percent of his income.

When new products come on to the market, customers like him will benefit as they will have more choices and cheaper options. At the low end, ED drugs could come as cheap as 30 yuan a pill.

This is what happened in South Korea, where its men were able to choose from 18 brands and pay much lower prices as soon as Pfizer’s Viagra patent expired in the country more than a year ago.

– Contact the writer at [email protected]

RC

EJ Insight writer

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