Lilly announces partnership to sell Cialis over the counter - 13 WTHR Indianapolis

Lilly announces partnership to sell Cialis over the counter

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INDIANAPOLIS - Eli Lilly and Company has plans to make money off of its popular Cialis brand after its patent expires.

Pfizer's Viagra essentially created the impotence drug category in the late 1990s. Lilly introduced its competitor, Cialis, in 2002.

Cialis has been a money maker, topping $2 billion in sales last year, even surpassing Viagra. But when Cialis goes generic in three years, Lilly hopes a licensing deal announced Wednesday will keep the money coming in.

From the start, Lilly marketed Cialis to couples as a solution to enhance their relationship. The spots were often placed in sports programming and would close with the signature side-by-side bathtub.

Now, Lilly has partnered with Sanofi to sell the drug over the counter, if the companies can secure regulatory approval. It's a move Lilly predicts men will welcome.

"Men are inhibited about their health care in general, but in particular about a topic like erectile dysfunction, so this avoids the step of having to go to their doctor, which many men don't take. They click online and get something that maybe not be real, so they can go to their local pharmacy and, in a very discreet way, treat their condition," said Lilly BioMedicines President Dave Ricks.

Cialis will go generic in 2017. Lilly says then its not a good fit for its corporate strategy of focusing on innovative prescription medicines. Sanofi successfully transitioned allergy medicine Allegra OTC two years ago.

There are concerns that with more access, the drug could be used recreationally, rather than by men with impotence. The warning labels now list adverse events, like a sudden drop in blood pressure can occur in patients taking heart and blood pressure medications.

They are issues which regulators will consider and must overcome before over-the-counter approval is granted.

"We can't say it will definitely happen, there are no erectile dysfunction prescription meds that have been switched. This is the first announcement of one where we are going to attempt that together with Sanofi," Ricks said. "We are hopeful we will be successful, but there are no guarantees."

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