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If you’ve searched for information about ED medication, you’ve no doubt seen Viagra® mentioned alongside a drug called Sildenafil. And you might be wondering if there’s a difference between the two pharmaceuticals, given how often they’re interchanged.

Viagra sildenafil can be a little confusing, especially when making sense of all the other names for Viagra, Cialis and other ED medications. The confusion is completely understandable.

Viagra vs. Generic Sildenafil

Sildenafil citrate (often shortened to “sildenafil”) is the main ingredient in Viagra. After Pfizer’s patent expired, other manufacturers were allowed to manufacture generic Viagra under the name of its generic ingredient, sildenafil. The terms are pretty much interchangeable, the way you might say “Kleenex®” to refer to a tissue. The only real difference between the two when used for ED is how much they cost.

Viagra

Viagra® is a well-known and widely used medication for treating erectile dysfunction (ED). Both products work by increasing the level of blood flow to your penis, making it easier to get and maintain an erection

Sildenafil

Sildenafil belongs to a class of enzyme-inhibiting drugs called phosphodiesterase type 5 inhibitors, or PDE5 inhibitors. Like the others in its class, sildenafil works by relaxing the muscle tissue inside the walls of your blood vessels, improving blood flow throughout parts of your body — including your penis.

how erections occur

It’s important to note that these erectile dysfunction medications aren’t wonder drugs. They only work if you’re sexually stimulated. But if you’ve got sexual stimulation and these pills, research shows that you have an effective, reliable erectile dysfunction treatment.

If you’re curious about the history of the brand and generic names, here’s the quick version:

  • In 1996, Pfizer patented sildenafil. 
  • Two years and many clinical trials later, in March of 1998, Viagra, hit the market as a prescription medication used to treat ED.
  • As the first oral medication for erectile dysfunction, it became incredibly popular. Its blue color and diamond shape earned it the nickname the “little blue pill”. Large-scale TV ad campaigns made it a medication that just about everyone knew about.
  • Pfizer’s patent on Viagra expired in 2012 for countries outside the US, allowing other brands to produce and market their own generic medications containing sildenafil. 
  • Although Pfizer challenged the expired patent in the United States, sildenafil has since become widely available as a generic medication that is manufactured and marketed by a range of different companies.

Is There Any Difference Between Viagra and Sildenafil?

Viagra is brand-name sildenafil that’s approved for ED, and what is the active ingredient in Viagra? Sildenafil. But we suspect the question you really want to ask is whether one is made better, or safer. Is generic sildenafil as good as Viagra for treating ED?

Although some manufacturers may use their own brand name, most generic sildenafil products are labeled simply as “sildenafil.” Regardless, they do the same thing, offer the same benefits and come with the same risk of side effects. 

viagra

Their primary difference is their price.

Even though there’s no difference in active ingredients, if you’re switching from Pfizer’s brand name Viagra to a generic form of sildenafil, it’s important to check that you’re purchasing tablets with a similar dosage to the one your healthcare provider prescribed.

Sildenafil vs. Viagra Dosage

Viagra comes in three dosages: 25mg, 50mg and 100mg. Most patients start at 50mg.

Sildenafil pills similarly come in 25mg, 50mg, and 100mg tablets.

Since brand name Viagra tablets and generic sildenafil both contain the exact same active ingredient, you can expect the same results from a 25mg-100mg dose of Viagra to the same dose of generic sildenafil.

Both Viagra and sildenafil work best when taken at least 30 minutes to an hour before sexual activity (and no more than four hours beforehand). 

You can take Viagra or generic sildenafil with or without food, but should avoid taking either with a high-fat meal, as it can make both medications take longer to take effect in your body.

If you don’t experience any improvement in your erectile function after using Viagra or generic sildenafil, don’t simply take more of this medication. Instead, let your healthcare provider know — they may recommend adjusting your dosage or trying a different ED medication.