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Dec 29, 2021
4 min read

Is Cialis available over-the-counter?

Cialis (tadalafil) is one of the most popular prescription medications to treat erectile dysfunction. Currently, it requires a prescription and isn’t available over-the-counter. This article will cover the concerns that make the transition to OTC challenging for prescription drugs like Cialis.

Disclaimer

If you have any medical questions or concerns, please talk to your healthcare provider. The articles on Health Guide are underpinned by peer-reviewed research and information drawn from medical societies and governmental agencies. However, they are not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

What could be easier than buying your medication online or at the pharmacy without needing a prescription?

Unfortunately, not all drugs are considered safe enough to sit on store shelves. The popular brand name drug Cialis, used for erectile dysfunction, once considered the move from prescription to over-the-counter (OTC) status. Read on to learn more about whether OTC Cialis will be available anytime soon.

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What is Cialis?

Cialis (active ingredient tadalafil) is a popular prescription medication for treating erectile dysfunction (ED). It’s a type of drug called a phosphodiesterase 5 inhibitor (PDE5 for short), which works by increasing blood flow to the penis to improve erections.

ED is a medical condition where you can’t get or keep an erection long enough to have satisfying sex. For some, that means their erections aren’t as firm, don’t last as long as they’d like, or there’s a lack of morning erections. If you think you may have ED, you’re not alone—around 30–50 million American men have experienced ED at some point (Sooriyamoorthy, 2021). 

You take Cialis 30–60 minutes before sexual activity. Tadalafil is usually well-tolerated. The most common side effects include headaches, low blood pressure, nasopharyngitis (common cold), muscle aches, and back pain.

Is Cialis available over-the-counter?

The short answer? No. You need a prescription from a healthcare professional to get Cialis.

In 2014, the pharmaceutical company Sanofi acquired the exclusive rights to apply for approval to market OTC Cialis from Eli Lilly (Sanofi, 2014). This sparked a lot of interest in whether Cialis would be available without a prescription. The plan was for Sanofi to make applications for OTC approval in the United States, Australia, Canada, and Europe once the drug patent expired in 2018. 

However, the hurdles to make Cialis available OTC in the United States were significant. Concerns included the potential for misuse, drug interactions, and fears that underlying medical conditions that cause ED may go undiagnosed (Chang, 2016). 

Viagra has been available over-the-counter in the United Kingdom since 2017, but there are currently no plans for Viagra or Cialis to go OTC in the United States. However, the Sanofi deal with Eli Lilly remains, so Sanofi may explore the potential for Cialis to go OTC one day.

Nevertheless, concerns have only increased about underlying conditions going untreated, and opportunities to educate men about utilizing the healthcare system are slipping away. Health conditions you may not know can cause ED include (Sooriyamoorthy, 2021):

The generic version of Cialis, tadalafil (see Important Safety Information), also requires a prescription.

How to get a prescription for Cialis

If your erection difficulties are affecting your sex life, get medical advice from a healthcare provider who can look for underlying health conditions that may be causing ED. 

They’ll also discuss with you the potential risks and benefits of taking an ED drug like Cialis. If appropriate, your provider will give you a prescription for it. 

However, if Cialis isn’t right for you, don’t despair. There are several effective treatments for ED. Other ED medications that work like Cialis you can try include sildenafil (brand name Viagra; see Important Safety Information), vardenafil (brand name Levitra), and avanafil (brand name Stendra).

Aside from oral medications, other treatment options include (Sooriyamoorthy, 2021):

Are there over-the-counter options like Cialis?

While you can’t get Viagra or Cialis over-the-counter in the United States, there are natural or herbal OTC products that may help. These supplements include:

While Cialis isn’t available over the counter right now, this could change in the future. For now, it’s a good idea to talk to your healthcare provider if you experience erectile dysfunction.

References

  1. Borrelli, F., Colalto, C., Delfino, D. V., Iriti, M., & Izzo, A. A. (2018). Herbal dietary supplements for erectile dysfunction: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Drugs, 78(6), 643-673. doi:10.1007/s40265-018-0897-3. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29633089/
  2. Chang, J., Lizer, A., Patel, I., Bhatia, D., Tan, X., & Balkrishnan, R. (2016). Prescription to over-the-counter switches in the United States. Journal of Research in Pharmacy Practice, 5(3), 149–154. doi:10.4103/2279-042X.185706. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4966231/
  3. Dell’Agli, M., Galli, G. V., Cero, E. D., Belluti, F., Matera, R., Zironi, E., et al. (2008). Potent inhibition of human phosphodiesterase-5 by icariin derivatives. Journal of Natural Products, 71(9), 1513-1517. doi:10.1021/np800049y. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18778098/
  4. Guay, A. T., Spark, R. F., Jacobson, J., Murray, F. T., & Geisser, M. E. (2002). Yohimbine treatment of organic erectile dysfunction in a dose-escalation trial. International Journal of Impotence Research, 14(1), 25-31. doi:10.1038/sj.ijir.3900803. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11896474/
  5. Rhim, H. C., Kim, M. S., Park, Y., Choi, W. S., Park, H. K., Kim, H. G., et al. (2019). The Potential role of arginine supplements on erectile dysfunction: a systematic review and meta-analysis. The Journal of Sexual Medicine, 16(2), 223-234. doi:10.1016/j.jsxm.2018.12.002. Retrieved from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30770070/
  6. Sanofi (2014). Sanofi and Lilly announce licensing agreement for Cialis® (tadalafil) OTC. Retrieved on Dec. 8, 2021 from https://www.sanofi.com/en/media-room/press-releases/2014/2014-05-28-06-00-00
  7. Sooriyamoorthy, T., Leslie, S. W. (2021). Erectile dysfunction. [Updated 2021 Aug 12]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Retrieved on Dec. 8, 2021 from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK562253/