With U.S. brand sales deflating, Pfizer gears up for over-the-counter Viagra in U.K.

(Wikipedia/Tim.Reckmann) Pfizer is getting ready to launch Viagra OTC in the U.K. this spring. (Wikipedia user Tim.Reckmann)

Pfizer is gearing up to launch its over-the-counter version of Viagra in the U.K. with its "largest ever" pharmacist training program there. 

Ahead of the spring rollout for Viagra Connect, approved by U.K. regulators in November, Pfizer is prepping pharmacists with online training, in-person sessions and regional meetings, the company said.

The move to nonprescription status in the U.K. could—in some small way—offset the expected decline in Viagra sales in the U.S. now that copycat versions are available. Generic versions of the little blue pill hit store shelves in December, threatening the product's $1.15 billion in U.S. revenue from 2016. Last year, U.S. sales slipped 31% to $789 million.

Free Webinar

Building a Flexible, Challenge Resistant and Patient Centric Clinical Supply Chain

The global landscape of clinical trials is rapidly changing as studies become more complex. An increasing number of sponsors are seeking enhanced flexibility in their supply chains to address a variety of clinical supply challenges, including patient demand and reducing delays. In this webinar, learn the benefits of utilizing demand-led supply and direct-to-patient distribution models in the clinical supply chain, as well as how they can be used to both improve flexibility and better align with patient needs. Register today!

Why are pharmacists so important to the U.K.'s over-the-counter launch? A key condition of the approval was that men seeking to purchase Viagra Connect must first talk with their pharmacists to determine whether the drug is appropriate for them. 

RELATED: The top 10 U.S. patent losses of 2017Viagra

Pfizer's training program includes a website where pharmacists can learn more and info for pharmacy assistants as well, the company said. 

The OTC rollout this spring follows a previous attempt to reclassify the drug nearly a decade ago. Pfizer withdrew a 2008 application because of concerns from the European Medicines Agency.  

Last March, Pfizer reapplied for OTC status and won the regulatory blessing in November. At the time of that approval, a Pfizer spokesperson said the company had no new information about a possible switch in the U.S. 

Pfizer's OTC push in the U.K. comes shortly after Viagra faced U.S. generic competition for the first time, representing a threat to a reliable revenue stream for the New York drugmaker. Viagra generated $1.2 billion in global sales in 2017, a 22% decline from the prior year. 

Suggested Articles

Former Indivior CEO Shaun Thaxter will face six months in federal prison for his role in misleading government officials on the dangers of Suboxone.

As of Friday after local time, 36 people have died in Korea after getting flu shots provided by at least seven companies, including Sanofi.

Two prominent pneumococcal vaccines from Merck and Pfizer are running low in Europe in a possible ill omen for the coming winter: report.