JEDDAH, 4 May 2005 — After nearly a year on the Saudi market, Levitra — Bayer’s competitor in the erectile dysfunction (ED) treatment market — is proving to be a success.
“You cannot guarantee this in clinical life, although in the lab the results were striking,” said Dr. Dietrich Brocks, head PH Business Europe Africa and Middle East, on a whistle stop tour of the Gulf States recently.
“The clinical trials are the real proving ground — and while science determines the great promise of a drug, it is only in the field that the real proof is found.”
ED is a sensitive area for men, most especially in countries where the “macho” image is a major part of the culture. The positive psychological effects of the drug derive from its short onset time — ten minutes or so — and a building of confidence in the reliability of its effects, both of which allow spontaneity to return to the intimate side of marital relations.
“That gives them a freedom to behave normally and reduces the psychological effect of the belief that they have a disease.” It makes what is a perfectly normal experience less of a clinical experience allowing them to “react to feelings rather than rely on planning.”
“Arab men especially link manhood with ED,” said Dr. Brocks. “The impression is that a man with ED is not a man. We are finding that the efficacy of Levitra helps remove that perception.”
Dr. Brocks said that it is in countries where the “macho image” drives men the product has highest market share. “Its efficacy is especially appreciated where the male population has a certain tendency to behave in the macho style.”
Research has established that one of the major challenges doctors face with patients is that they fail to return and tell them that ED drugs are not working; this can produce damaging psychological effects and lead them to give up on the treatment.
“The fact that Levitra works time after time builds the confidence in the patient that the condition is treatable and effectively so,” observed Dr. Brocks.
The product works by being highly selective in its action to connect with the targeted enzymes and to treat only ED. “The extreme specificity means that the product doesn’t waste time with other interactions — and thus has no effect on nor is affected by digestion or alcohol consumption.”
Dr. Brocks said that reports of side effects from the market are no different from those experienced in the clinical trials. “They were filed with the registration file — we were not forced by the broad usage in the market place to change that profile.”
There is nothing reported in this market, he said, that is not indicated on the label, seen by many doctors as overcautious in its description.
Counterfeit drugs are always a problem when a new and effective drug reaches the market. To minimize the possibility of counterfeits, Bayer has taken extreme care to channel all its distribution through one point which makes it very difficult for counterfeiters to get into the supply chain. The pills all come from only one lab in Germany.
“We have put a tracking system, safety measure, and identification techniques in place that are not overtly visible to the ordinary customer,” he said.
“The system works both ways — going into the market and for returns.”
If anyone finds a good discount offer outside that supply chain, they should treat it with extreme suspicion.