The history of Viagra and the battle to enforce its patents against attack from generic manufacturers offers good lessons for devising a plan of defence.
In 1989, British scientists at Pfizer created a truly ‘blockbuster’ drug. Known as silendafil citrate, the drug was supposed to treat heart problems and, by 1991, Pfizer had obtained a UK patent for this purpose. But as the scientists began testing the drug, they soon realised its desired impact was minimal. Surprisingly, they found, the drug had a notable side effect—it stimulated penile erection.
In the five years that followed, Pfizer rigorously studied and tested the drug before, in 1996, it successfully applied for a US patent covering erectile dysfunction. Only two years later, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Pfizer’s application to sell the drug. Viagra was born.
From these humble beginnings at a research facility in Kent, Viagra soon dominated the market and generated revenues of more than $1 billion a year.
Viagra, drug patent, litigation strategy, pfizer