Dr. Vercnocke discusses erectile dysfunction drug costs on direct-to-consumer pharmacies


“Company 3 was the most surprising; the cost was $5220 per year for 10 20-mg [tadalafil] pills per month,” says Jack Vercnocke, MD.

In this video, Jack Vercnocke, MD, shares notable findings for the recent Journal of Urology paper “The High Price of Anonymity: Comparison of Cost of Direct-to-Consumer Mail Order Pharmacies Compared with an Online Wholesale Pharmacy.” Vercnocke is a urology research assistant at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan.


What were some of the notable findings? Were any of them surprising to you and your coauthors?

The first thing we did was compare the introductory packages from each website. That's the lowest quantity and lowest strength available. When we looked at sildenafil, we found that for the direct-to-consumer pharmacies, the price per pill was between $4 and $6.50. That was compared with 33 cents from Cost Plus Drug Company. We then compared the cheapest possible price per pill that we could get by playing around with different packaging options for sildenafil for each company. We found that the prices from the direct-to-consumer companies ranged between $2.79 up to $4 per pill. That was compared with 15 cents per pill from Cost Plus Drug Company. In addition to those high prices, 2 out of 3 of the direct-to-consumer pharmacies require a 6- or 12-month commitment to obtain those prices, whereas Cost Plus Drug Company requires no long-term commitment. We saw similar trends with the introductory packages of tadalafil, costing between $6.25 and $9.75 per pill from the direct-to-consumer pharmacies, and then 33 cents per pill from Cost Plus Drug Company. Then we looked at the annual costs for the highest strength and the highest quantity available from each company for tadalafil. Company 1, we found was $1500 per year. That gives you 28 9-mg pills per month. Company 2 costs $1140 per year. That's 10 20-mg pills per month. Company 3 was the most surprising; the cost was $5220 per year for 10 20-mg pills per month, which is actually the same exact package that was offered for $1140 from company 2. And that comes out to a cost of $44.50 per pill. All of that can be compared to Cost Plus Drug Company, with an annual cost of $75.24 for 360 20-mg pills.

This transcript was edited for clarity.

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