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No foreign pill, desi Viagra rocks!

Mumbai men have pronounced their verdict: they prefer desi Viagra to the original one.

india Updated: Feb 02, 2006 19:00 IST

Mumbai men have pronounced their verdict: they prefer desi Viagra to the original one.

A month after Pfizer officially launched Viagra in the Indian market, the product has, expectedly, received a rather weak response.

Two obvious reasons are the high pricing and availability of nearly 40 generic versions of the drug that are much cheaper. At Rs 463 per 50 mg tablet and Rs 594 per 100 mg tablet, Viagra in India is priced on par with its global counterpart, and is 30 times more expensive than desi versions manufactured by Ranbaxy, Cipla and Sun Pharmaceuticals among a host of others.

Royal Chemists at Marine Lines says the sales of Pfizer's Viagra are dismal compared to the generic versions. Manish Medical Stores opposite KEM Hospital, Parel, said it stocked only two tablets of the original and is yet to sell any. A well-known chemist at Churchgate says it has not stocked the drug because it is too expensive. "Desi Viagra sales are about two strips a day, so it's not feasible to stock the original which is so expensive," said the chemist.

Even doctors prefer to prescribe the desi version. Sexologist Dr Prakash Kothari, who has written over 5,000 prescriptions of the drug, said he has not written a single prescription of Pfizer's Viagra since it launched in India. "When the cheaper version is just as effective, why would anyone opt for the more expensive one?"

Endocrinologist Dr Shashank Joshi said, "We prescribe the drug on the basis of the patient's economic condition. One of the reasons it may not have taken off yet is that patients who use the official product travel frequently and stock up on it." Joshi estimated the ratio of prescription of the original to the generic is one in 10.

Pfizer, however, is unconcerned. "The overall response has been very encouraging. If there is any reduction in customs duty or taxes, we will definitely pass on the benefit to the customers," K.G. Ananthakrishnan, senior director, pharmaceuticals, Pfizer, told HT. As of now there are no plans to announce a price cut.

First Published: Feb 02, 2006 19:00 IST