Why The Limp Sales?

After years of go-go growth, it appears that the market for erectile dysfunction drugs in the U.S. and overseas is flat.

Courtesy Flickr user fhwrdh

That’s according to Eli Lilly, which told investors this morning that the global market for ED drugs grew just 1% over the first 9 months of this year. Will this market shrinkage cause primary care doctors to find themselves in the crosshairs of promotion?

Lilly crowed that its Cialis (tadalafil), dubbed “le weekend” by randy Frenchmen because of its reputed 36-hour effect, had 4% sales growth overall (17% in the U.S.).  Some $1.1 billion worth was sold from January to October — nothing to sneeze at, but not a blockbuster like Zyprexa, which had $3.5 billion in sales over the same period.

Cialis has edged ahead of Pfizer’s Viagra (sildenafil) among prescribing urologists in the U.S., the company said. But it has a tougher sell with primary care physicians, who write for Viagra for about 55% of prescriptions.

Bayer’s Levitra (vardenafil) is a distant third.

But overall, in the U.S. and Europe, even Lilly’s own charts show a straight, flat line of sales growth for these drugs.

Meanwhile, in the U.S. at least, ED drugs continue to be promoted like flat screen TVs on Black Friday.  According to a recent report from the Congressional Budget Office, ED drugs were the most heavily promoted class to consumers in 2008.  The three ED manufacturers spent $350 million on television, print, and Internet efforts. Another $175 million was spent promoting the drugs to physicians.

Only those ubiquitous Sally Field ads for Boniva and promos for other osteoporosis ads came close, clocking in at about $250 million in direct-to-consumer spending and $250 million on physician promotions.

So what’s with the slowdown in the ED market? Are there no more men (and their partners) out there who could benefit from these drugs?

Lilly may have an answer for that. According to its presentation, the company is making inroads in China.

How do you say “le weekend” in Mandarin?

— Alicia Ault (on Twitter @aliciaault)

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1 Comment

Filed under Geriatric Medicine, IMNG, Internal Medicine, Primary care, Urology

One response to “Why The Limp Sales?

  1. Well Done! I Like it!

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