Cheap and effective: Desi version of Viagra finally in India: Living – India Today 22012001



Man’s best friend.
For millions of Indian men slack with anticipation, the magic pill couldn’t have come a minute too soon. Four years after it wowed the world, the Viagra Phenomenon is officially in India, with various desi versions of the anti-impotence drug set to storm the market.
To begin with, the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) has allowed three pharmaceutical companies Ranbaxy, Zydus-Cadila Healthcare and Torrent Pharmaceuticals to market the newly developed versions. While Penegra, a Zydus-Cadila product, has already been introduced, Ranbaxy’s Caverta is scheduled to step in within a week. About 11 other companies will follow suit in the next few months.
The reasons can range from diabetes, hypertension and neurogenic causes (where the nerves are severed) to liver damage and sheer performance anxiety. Sildenafil citrate, as Viagra is scientifically known, acts by inhibiting an enzyme that blocks the blood supply to the penis.
Effect: Erection possible 30 minutes after taking the pill.
Side-effects: Can be fatal for patients on medication with nitrates or for cardio-vascular patients.Temporary loss of colour vision, nausea and headache.
This consequently increases the supply and leads to erection. It isn’t as if the disorder doesn’t have optional cures, but no treatment matches the drug in the sheer simplicity of its administration. Which explains the euphoric reception to its arrival.
“We can now give oral tablets to the patients,” says Saxena, “and it will also stop them from going to the quacks.” For eminent Mumbai-based andrologist Vijay Kulkarni, “it’s one more tool for treating the patient”.
Tempering the ebullience, however, are experts who sound a word of caution. Viagra is not, they emphasise, an aphrodisiac, as is widely assumed. The potential danger arising from its misuse is why it has been cleared only as a prescription drug.
Says DCGI Ashwini Kumar: “It has been approved on the condition that it be used cautiously under therapeutic conditions.” For the genuine patient though, the readily available, cheap, effective tablet is nothing but good news.
If taken with nitrates, it reduces the patients’ blood pressure dramatically. Possible temporary side-effects are headache and nausea. A more serious effect is loss of blue-green colour vision. The correct dose is, hence, of prime importance; all Indian versions of sildenafil will be available in 25 mg, 50 mg and 100 mg doses.
It temporarily acts on a specific part of the body but it does not solve the underlying reason for the disorder. “Sexual dysfunction is about more than just Viagra,” says Kulkarni, “Psycho-sexual counselling is very important.” All companies Torrent, Cadila and Ranbaxy emphasise the need for patients to be educated by urologists, endocrinologists and psychiatrists.
Other companies provide similar estimates. But with so many vying for a slice of the pie, a bit of shine may rub off soon. Stiff competition will define price and profit margins to the patient’s benefit. The approximate price of the new drug is Rs 20 per tablet, which is already a big gain for patients who are currently shelling out Rs 500 per tablet for the imported Viagra in the grey market.
The affordability of the genuine sildenafil brands could also adversely affect the popularity of the anti-impotence herbal drugs.
With the product being identical, marketing strategy will decide the winners and losers in the Great Indian Sildenafil Contest. Brand name, colour and even the shape of the tablets are being depicted as distinguishing features to gain an edge in the market.
As for Ranbaxy’s brand, Caverta, “the name derives from the cavernosa, the part of penis that plays a vital role in erection”, explains Kaul. Torrent’s choice, Androz, derives from andrology a science that deals with the study of the masculine constitution, according to R. Balasubramanian, vice-president, marketing, Torrent.