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Pfizer to sell Viagra online, take on counterfeit pills

May 06, 2013|By Chad Terhune
  • Viagra tablets
Viagra tablets (William Vazquez / Associated…)

Pfizer Inc. will begin selling its popular erectile dysfunction pill Viagra to patients on its website, in an unusual move to combat counterfeit drugs.

It's a novel strategy because drug-makers rarely sell medicines directly to patients, but analysts say rivals will be watching the experiment closely.

Men will still need a prescription to get the little blue pills delivered to their home, but they won't have to deal with a pharmacist in the store.

Online pharmacies have proliferated in recent years, hawking fake versions of Viagra and other brand-name drugs at ultra-low prices and with no prescription needed.

Viagra has been a popular product to counterfeit given its high price and the embarrassment some men experience buying the drug.

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In announcing its online sales, Pfizer cited a recent review by the National Assn. of Boards of Pharmacy that found as few as 3% of websites selling prescription drugs were legitimate pharmacies.

“We have seen counterfeit medicines manufactured in filthy and deplorable conditions," said Matthew Bassiur, Pfizer's vice president of global security. “Samples of counterfeit Viagra tested by our labs have contained pesticides, wallboard, commercial paint and printer ink."

Viagra is one of Pfizer's top drugs, posting $2 billion in worldwide revenue last year. CVS Caremark Corp. will fill the orders made on the company's website, Pfizer said.

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