Shy Viagra users get a break from Pfizer

In an industry first, the drug giant will sell directly to consumers via its website. It probably won't be the only one to try this.

By Aimee Picchi May 6, 2013 12:10PM

Handout photo from pfizer showing Viagra pills (© William Vazquez/pfizer/AP Photo)Men needing to fill their Viagra prescriptions will no longer have to go through the potentially embarrassing step of handing over their drug orders to a pharmacist. 

In a pharmaceutical industry first, Pfizer (PFE) is going to sell its popular erectile dysfunction pill directly to patients through its website, according to the Associated Press.

Patients will still need a prescription, but they can sidestep the pharmacist by filling the orders at To convince consumers to take up the offer, Pfizer is adding an enticement: three free pills with the first order and 30% off the second. That's not peanuts, either, since the pills cost $25 each. 

The reason behind the move isn't just to help self-conscious men get their hands on Viagra, however. 

After all, Pfizer is breaking the big pharma distribution model by selling directly to consumers, not a move to be undertaken lightly. Pharmaceutical companies sell their drugs in bulk to the middlemen who fill our prescriptions or provide medication: pharmacies, hospitals and doctors. 

Pfizer is also aiming to fight counterfeiters who sell fake drugs to the unsuspecting. More than 97% of 10,400 sites that sell pharmaceutical products online aren't in compliance with U.S. pharmacy laws, according to an April study from the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy.

Viagra is a huge target for counterfeiters, given that the drug had $2 billion in sales last year. But the fakes often have little relation to the actual drug, with the knock-offs sometimes filled with chalk, brick dust and even pesticides, according to BloombergBusinessweek.

Not surprisingly, that can lead to serious health complications, with one study estimating that 100,000 people die every year from fake and substandard medications.

If Pfizer succeeds in convincing men to buy online, other drug companies could soon be selling directly to consumers, a boon for those prone to bouts of self-consciousness at the pharmacy counter. 

"If it works, everybody will hop on the train," Les Funtleyder, a health care strategist at private equity fund Poliwogg, told the AP. 

Follow Aimee Picchi on Twitter at @aimeepicchi.

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Tags: PFE
May 6, 2013 2:58PM

At $25 per pill the Justice Department should investigate that as FRAUD.  Those little blue pills cost

pennies to make like aspirin.

May 6, 2013 5:08PM

Personally I would not pay $25.00 per pill for a Pfizer product when I can (and do) regularly purchase a generic equivalent for just a bit over a dollar per pill.  I have heard all of the horror stories about how you don't get what you are paying for but to date I have had no ill effects and they work just fine for me.  To be honest I think most of those stories are propaganda to try and frighten men into buying the high priced original.  Once the basic ingredient was known it didn't take long for the generics to show up.  Once I tried them and they worked as well as they did I had no reason to waste money on the original.


Viagra, Cialis, and Levitra are all pretty much made of the same ingredients, just different manufacturers.  All are available from alternate sources for much less money and many of those sources don't even require a current prescription.  Any old one will do just fine or you can simply answer a few questions on-line and a foreign physician will give you a virtual prescription.  As a man who is almost 70 and living on a fixed income I need all the help I can get physically as well as financially and the giant pharmaceutical manufacturers have already more than recouped their research and development expenses so their prices are nothing more than a kind of extortion because they hold older men hostage for their sexual needs and desires.       

May 6, 2013 6:14PM
At $25 each their trying to stiff you!
May 6, 2013 6:03PM
OMG! avefetising '....if you have an erection for more than four hours....." Dang! I hate this stuff!  If I have an erection for more than four hours, I don't need a doctor...unless it is a female doctor willing to sooth me without pills.  I just need another woman!!!
May 6, 2013 12:59PM

You say

"Not surprisingly, that can lead to serious health complications, with one study every year from fake and substandard medications"


It seems odd that Viagra is the medication you are worried about.

May 6, 2013 5:35PM
Just a minute, sweetheart.  I just saw the Fedex truck  in the neighborhood.
May 6, 2013 7:05PM
The "rat-bastards" are right up there with the get rich oil corps. $25.00 per pill is rid dick u louse!! Hope they all choke on their wads of money.!!
May 6, 2013 7:50PM
Viagra is the medicinal equivalent of Lay's potato chips,"comfort food," which is to say, ain't nobody ever died of boner failure!!!
May 6, 2013 5:06PM

Where do you get the $25 per pill price quote. Hardly worth even a fraction of that

May 6, 2013 9:34PM
A good **** job works as good as any of those expensive pills, and no bad risk is involved. The advantage, though, is that there has to be some reciprocation.
May 6, 2013 5:35PM
Now if I can just get my Trojans online.............
May 7, 2013 9:47AM

I "like" the part where I have to ask the insurance how many pills I can have-NOT! They get to say how often I get to have sex. Next it will be Obamacare who will say how often I will get have sex. I'd just like to have sex with my spouse when I want to not when everybody else tells me I can. 

May 7, 2013 12:25PM
I once asked my doc for a free Viagara sample.  He brought me in the three little blue pills that came in a box the size of a shoebox.  I was mortified trying to sneak that box out past his smokin hot nurse and a waiting room full of people. Might as well of had a flashin neon sign on the box....."VIAGARA"...."VIAGARA"...."VIAGARA"........
May 7, 2013 12:00PM

Men get a brake why is the reason? I would like to have a list of women pharmaceuticals they sell maybe like birth control that could be handled the same way.  I don't believe the reasoning for this one bit.

May 7, 2013 1:06PM
Some people believe anything an ad says.  I believe if a man has an erection lasting 4 hours, he does not need a pill.  He needs a woman!!
May 7, 2013 1:06PM
I regularly purchase online without prescription for approx $3 per pill.  Have never had a problem.
May 7, 2013 10:29AM


This is far better than the Comedy Club!

May 7, 2013 1:21PM
May 7, 2013 12:29PM
Had just about the same effect as when I just now noticed I spelled Viagra wrong.......
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