Viatris Welcomes ‘Healthy Competition’ For UK OTC Erectile Dysfunction Top Spot
Viatris' marketing director Rob Elliott speaks to HBW Insight about how the company is investing in flagship OTC erectile dysfunction treatment Viagra Connect to ensure the brand keeps ahead of the growing competition.
Since its creation last year out of a merger between Mylan and Pfizer’s Upjohn off-patent and mature brands unit, Viatris has been investing heavily in its flagship OTC erectile dysfunction (ED) brand, Viagra Connect.
Last December, Viatris, in partnership with the Men’s Health Forum, sexual health charity Brook and dating expert Sarah Louise Ryan, launched the “Time To Raise It” public relations campaign, which sought to remove the shame and stigma associated with ED and put the joy back into sex.
Then at the beginning of 2021, the company launched a new two-pack trial version of Viagra Connect in UK pharmacies, and also announced that the first-in-category treatment would soon be available without a prescription in neighboring Ireland following a successful Rx-to-OTC switch. (Also see "Viatris Offers Viagra Connect In Smaller Trial Pack For UK Men" - HBW Insight, 25 Jan, 2021.) (Also see "Viagra Connect To Launch In Ireland Following Rx-to-OTC Switch" - HBW Insight, 18 Jan, 2021.)
It’s no coincidence that this investment comes as other sildenafil (50mg) alternatives flood the market.
In an interview last year, Perrigo UK & Ireland managing director and International vice president, Neil Lister, revealed to HBW insight that the company was launching a white label version of the drug. (Also see "Perrigo To Launch UK Private-Label Viagra Connect Competitor " - HBW Insight, 17 Feb, 2020.)
Since then, Dr. Reddy's Laboratories and Teva Pharmaceuticals have also launched OTC sildenafil products, under the Almus and Liberize brand names respectively.
Meanwhile, UK R&D firm Futura Medical is threatening to shake up the market with its drug-free ED treatment gel, MED3000, which now has an EU CE mark and for which the company is currently seeking OTC approval in the US. (Also see "Futura’s Drug-Free Erectile Dysfunction Gel On Track For US And EU Launch" - HBW Insight, 26 Aug, 2021.)
While Viatris is not fazed by these challenges to Viagra Connect’s well established position, marketing director Rob Elliott tells HBW Insight that the company must keep investing in the brand to keep its position secure. This will help support Viatris' ambition of becoming a “new champion for global health,”he says.
Viatris is also exploring other markets where it can launch Viagra Connect to and looking at how its other OTC brands such as Difflam and Endwarts can be made more accessible to pharmacy and consumers, Elliott reveals.
"Unfortunately, it’s a vicious circle as erection problems if left unaddressed can have a negative impact on men’s self-esteem, which in turn can have a big impact on mental health, causing depression and anxiety."What’s more, over the course of the pandemic, the opportunity to go on dates and have sex have been limited to say the least! So, it’s not surprising that a recent survey we conducted showed that over a third of men were feeling anxious about returning to “normal” this year once restrictions had lifted and the expectations that brings when it comes to sex and dating. This number was even higher when looking at men that experience EPs, with half agreeing that they feel under pressure to perform well in bed. Just as with mental health, simply talking openly about EPs – with a partner, friend, or healthcare professional – can help to relieve the burden that so many men and their partners feel.