Everything you need to know about tadalafil, the Viagra substitute that lasts for 36 hours

The rise and fall of erectile dysfunction drugs took a new turn earlier this week.

Cialis from $0.75

For years after it was first brought onto the market in 1998 by pharmaceutical company Pfizer, Viagra ruled the headlines; the small blue pill became synonymous with men seeking a boost for their love lives. However, the landscape shifted in 2013, when Pfizer lost its UK patent protection. Cheaper alternatives have since hit the market, containing the same active ingredient – sildenafil. According to NHS Digital, there were 2,958,199 prescriptions for sildenafil in 2016.

As of midday on Monday this week, it’s a case of déjà vu, with the patent for a different erectile dysfunction drug expiring. This time it’s Cialis, whose active ingredient tadalafil lasts for 36 hours (in comparison, sildenafil lasts for around six).

Lloyd’s Pharmacy’s Online Doctor were the first large UK retailer to get non-branded tadalafil onto the market, launching the drug on Wednesday at £2.37 less per tablet than what they sell Cialis for.

We can expect the price to drop further in the coming weeks and months. In the first year after Viagra lost it’s UK patent, prices of the drug fell by 93 per cent. As with sildenafil, taladafil is still only available via prescription.

But what is tadalafil, and why the excitement when it still costs considerably more than Viagra?

Tadalafil, as Cialis, was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration in 2003. It works the same way as sildenafil, by releasing a natural chemical, and starting a chain reaction that ends up with the smooth muscle inside the penis relaxing while blood flow is stimulated towards the area, so that an erection can be formed and maintained. “That doesn’t mean you have an erection for that long,” says Dr Kieran Seyan, clinical lead for Lloyds Pharmacy Online Doctor. “But it offers more spontaneity so you don’t have to plan your sex life as much and have to think about whether you’re going to have sex tonight, or is this going to happen within six hours or this medicine won’t work.”

The drugs differ in more than just the duration of their active window. Tadalafil works quicker than sildenafil, kicking in after 30 minutes as opposed to one hour. Whereas Viagra needs to be taken on an empty stomach, tadalafil is not affected by food, so you can take it whenever and wherever – which makes it a much more popular option among men with impotence issues. However, users are recommended not to drink more than one to two units before consumption.

Along with the ‘as-required’ option, there is also a daily formulation of tadalafil, which is recommended for people who have sex more than once a week. Taken every day, the treatment will reach it’s full affect after five days.

According to a 2010 study, one of the main relationship gripes among 3,000 participants was a lack of spontaneity, which obviously worsens when taking in an issue such as impotence. The NHS estimates that 1 in 10 men has a problem related to having sex, such as premature ejaculation or erectile dysfunction.

As often with medication, the benefits of taladafil come hand-in-hand with some downsides. The drug lasts longer in your body, and therefore so too do any of the potential side-effects.

Dr Seyan says that any of the side effects related to both taladafil and sildenafil are very much dependent on the individual but remain similar in both drugs. They include headaches, nausea, stuffy nose, flushing and indigestion. So if you experience minor side affects from sildenafil, these could worsen by making the switch.

Impotence issues differ between individuals, so upon consultation with your doctor you will be able to get the treatment that is suitable for you – whether that is sildenafil or tadalafil.

By Richard Jones.