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AP/J. Scott Applewhite
All is fair in love and war.
BELOW THE BELT

Upstart competitors are threatening Viagra’s market dominance

By Simone Stolzoff

Viagra is experiencing some performance anxiety.

For 20 years, Pfizer’s “little blue pill” has been synonymous with the cure to erectile dysfunction (ED). But thanks to patent law and a recent court settlement, upstart competitors like Roman and Hims are now able to sell the generic version of Sildenafil, the drug used to treat ED.

Earlier this week, internet users noticed that the hims.com domain name redirected to viagra.com, prompting a theory that Pfizer had nabbed the domain. The theory now appears to be unfounded (hims.com now curiously redirects to menshealth.com), but Pfizer is still right to feel the heat. After 20 years of patent-protection on Sildenafil (ED competitors like Cialis and Levitra use other active ingredients), generic alternatives like Hims have flooded the market in the past year.

Hims, which was founded in 2017, has raised nearly $100 million to help men improve their health. In addition to ED, they offer products for hair loss and skin care. The 25-person company has dreams of creating a $10 billion healthcare company, according to founder Andrew Dudum, by making it easier for men to address their health needs.

“We’re trying to solve for what I call ‘by-the-way syndrome,'” Adrian Rawlinson, Hims’ VP of medical affairs, told Quartz. “Instead of mentioning an issue on your way out of a doctor’s office, we want men to be able to tackle their health concerns head on.”

Hims declined to comment on the alleged Pfizer purchase of hims.com. A Pfizer spokesman told Quartz that, to the best of his knowledge, hims.com is not owned by Pfizer.

The pharma giant’s little blue pill has brought in tens of billions dollars in revenue since its launch in 1998.

Let’s see if they can keep it up.

Correction: An earlier version of this article claimed that Pfizer owns the hims.com domain.