Pfizer's Viagra Will Not Be Sold Over the Counter in Europe

Last Updated Nov 20, 2008 10:07 AM EST

viagraPfizer continues to meet resistance to its attempt to transform Viagra from a legitimate drug for a real medical condition into a party drug that promises "a more satisfying sexual experience." Today Pfizer announced that it has withdrawn its application to sell Viagra as an OTC medicine in Europe. The company had argued that by selling Viagra without a prescription it would be more accessible to men who are currently buying illegal or fake versions over the internet because they are too embarrassed to see a doctor.

But the European Medicines Agency noted that if men could get the blue diamonds without seeing a doctor then underlying health problems -- such as heart conditions or diabetes -- may be missed. So Pfizer withdrew the application, but noted that it disagreed with EMEA's decision:
Millions of men in Europe are currently circumventing the healthcare system when seeking ED medicines, exposing themselves to unnecessary risks of medicines from uncontrolled sources and the missed opportunity to get important health information from a healthcare professional.
The episode is interesting because it illuminates the bind Pfizer is in, in terms of finding new sales for the drug. Originally, Pfizer wanted the drug approved and reimbursed because ED was a real medical condition suffered by men with prostate and other health problems. But to expand its market Pfizer needs to get the pill to people who just want to get it on. Thus Pfizer on the one hand positioned its application as all about "health information from a healthcare professional," while on the other its marketing is all about game-playing, horny devils and romantic weekends.

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