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For Erectile Dysfunction Drugs, It Pays to Shop Around

For Erectile Dysfunction Drugs, It Pays to Shop AroundIn the United States, erectile dysfunction (ED) drug prices vary greatly depending on the type of pharmacy dispensing them.

ED is a common problem for men, especially as they get older. For many, drugs called phosphodiesterase type 5 (PDE5) inhibitors provide an effective, convenient way to produce an erection when they wish.

But ED drugs usually aren’t covered by health insurance. Unfortunately, some men discontinue treatment because the drugs are too expensive.

To learn more about the range of ED drug prices, a team of researchers surveyed 323 pharmacies within a 25-mile radius of their medical center in the midwestern U.S. Most of the pharmacies were chains (e.g., CVS, Rite-Aid, Walgreens). Thirty-four were independently owned. Seven were classified as wholesale (e.g., Costco and Sam’s Club). The remaining seven were associated with hospitals.

They calculated the median prices of four ED drugs in standard doses: Sildenafil (Viagra), tadalafil (Cialis), vardenafil (Levitra), and avanafil (Stendra). Median refers to the midpoint in a list of prices. Half of the prices would be more, and half would be less.)

Sildenafil had the largest price range, from a low of $48 at independent pharmacies to a high of $500 at hospital-associated pharmacies. The median chain price was $448, and wholesale pharmacies charged a median of $50.

Median prices for the other drugs were more similar, ranging from a low of $362 (tadalafil at independent pharmacies) to a high of $773 (avanafil at hospital-associated pharmacies).

The study was published in December 2018 in the Journal of Sexual Medicine.


The Journal of Sexual Medicine

Mishra, Kirtishri, MD, et al.

“Variability in Prices for Erectile Dysfunction Medications—Are All Pharmacies the Same?”

(Full-text. December 2018)