Viagra's patent in China has expired and some analysts expect cheaper prices will bring a surge of demand for the storied erectile dysfunction (ED) drug.
"China ED drugs market is an appealing cake with large profits," said Dr. Neil Wang, China managing director at Frost & Sullivan, in emailed comments. "The launch of generic alternatives into the market will lead to intense competition."
The size of the potential sales increase in China could be huge. Sales of ED drugs could triple to as much as 5 billion yuan ($810 million) by 2018 from an estimated 1.7 billion yuan in 2013, Citigroup estimated in a recent report.
It estimates Viagra, made by Pfizer, has around a 40-45 percent share of the ED drug market in tier one, two and three cities and it expects the generic version could take more than half of the market. Globally, Pfizer reported around $1.88 billion in Viagra sales in 2013.
Cost is likely to be the main driver of increased sales, with the current 50-70 yuan per dosage price tag dissuading an estimated 30-40 percent of patients in China from taking ED drugs once they're prescribed, Citigroup said, noting the generic Viagra, also known as sildenafil citrate, will likely be priced at a 30-50 percent discount.