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Just the trick.
GROWING OPPORTUNITY

Why Viagra sales are surging in China

Pharmaceutical giant Pfizer says sales of Viagra rose 47% in China last year, making the Chinese market a rare bright spot for the brand. Globally, Pfizer has been forced to compete with cheaper generic versions of the drug since its patent on Viagra expired in 2013. Sales of competitor Eli Lilly’s Cialis also surpassed Viagra the same year.

But in China, Pfizer says it commands 60% of the market share for erectile dysfunction drugs, thanks in part to its marketing efforts. Viagra is a popular brand in China, and pharmacies across the country regularly advertise the availability of the pill in shop windows.

A general mistrust of domestically-made drugs, and a high regard for foreign brands, means that—in China at least—Pfizer is keeping generic competitors at bay and drawing consumers away from more traditional remedies such as tiger penis and deer antler.

Another reason that Chinese men need more help from the famous little blue pills? Maybe because more people are moving to the city.

Speaking to Bloomberg, Ma Xiaonian, a clinical sexologist and deputy director of the China Sexology Association, puts the rise in demand for the erectile dysfunction drug down to an increasingly urbanized lifestyle, which encourages people to “sit more, move less, exercise less, and have more bad habits.”

The end result is higher rates of obesity, diabetes, and hypertension, which can cause erectile dysfunction. The country’s high rate of smoking—China has one of the highest rates of tobacco use in the world—could also be contributing to the problem.

China’s massive urbanization drive will likely sustain increasing demand for the blue pill for some time too, as it moves hundreds of millions more people from the countryside to cities. Pfizer’s numbers suggest that some 68 million urban Chinese men will soon be in need of its medicinal support.

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