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Drug vs. Drug

Levitra vs. Viagra: Differences, similarities, and which is better for you

Karen Berger medical writer and reviewer headshot By | March 2, 2020

Drug overview & main differences | Conditions treated | Efficacy | Insurance coverage and cost comparison | Side effects | Drug interactions | Warnings | FAQ

If you are one of the 15 to 30 million men in the United States who suffers from erectile dysfunction, you may have talked with your doctor about trying a prescription medication. Levitra and Viagra are two popular medications used for the treatment of erectile dysfunction (ED). They are classified in a group of medications called PDE-5 (phosphodiesterase-5) inhibitors. Other drugs in this category include Cialis (tadalafil) and Stendra (avanafil).

PDE5 inhibitors work in conjunction with sexual stimulation—increasing the levels and activity of nitric oxide—leading to better blood flow to the penis and causing an erection. They also prolong erections and increase sexual satisfaction. Although Levitra and Viagra are both PDE-5 inhibitors and are very similar, they have some notable differences.

What are the main differences between Levitra and Viagra?

Levitra (vardenafil), also known by its generic name vardenafil, and Viagra, also known by its generic name, sildenafil, are both PDE-5 inhibitors. Both drugs are available in tablet form as brand and generic.

Regardless of dose, these medications should not be taken more than once in a day in the treatment of ED. Levitra or Viagra needs to be accompanied by sexual stimulation in order to work.

Main differences between Levitra and Viagra
Levitra Viagra
Drug class PDE-5 inhibitor PDE-5 inhibitor
Brand/generic status Brand and generic Brand and generic
What is the generic name? Vardenafil Sildenafil
What form(s) does the drug come in? Tablet Tablet
What is the standard dosage? 10 mg taken 1 hour prior to sexual activity (dose can range from 5 mg to 20 mg)
*not to be used more than once daily, regardless of dose
50 mg taken 1 hour prior to sexual activity (dose can range from 25 mg to 100 mg)
*not to be used more than once daily, regardless of dose
How long is the typical treatment? As needed As needed
Who typically uses the medication? Adult males Adult males

Conditions treated by Levitra and Viagra

Levitra and Viagra are indicated for the treatment of erectile dysfunction. Both drugs have been used off-label for Raynaud’s phenomenon or for female sexual arousal disorder. The form of sildenafil known as Revatio (NOT Viagra) is indicated for the treatment of pulmonary arterial hypertension, only at the dose of 20 mg three times daily, and not at the doses Viagra is available in (25 mg, 50 mg, or 100 mg).

Condition Levitra Viagra
Treatment of ED Yes Yes
Raynaud’s phenomenon Off-label Off-label
Female sexual arousal disorder Off-label Off-label
Treatment of pulmonary arterial hypertension (WHO Group I) in adults to improve exercise ability and delay clinical worsening No Yes, but not as Viagra. Only when prescribed as Revatio (or its generic sildenafil), in doses of 20 mg three times daily

Is Levitra or Viagra more effective?

From clinical studies, we know that both Levitra and Viagra have been proven effective, but which is better? In a study comparing drugs for ED, Levitra was described as more potent than Viagra; however, both drugs were shown to be similarly effective in the treatment of ED. The only advantage Levitra had was that it did not alter color perception, which may occur with Viagra on rare occasions. Another study found both drugs to be well-tolerated, with Levitra being nominally better than Viagra.

The most effective drug for you can only be determined by your healthcare provider, who will take into account your medical history and condition(s), as well as other medications you are taking that could interact with Levitra or Viagra.

Coverage and cost comparison of Levitra vs. Viagra

Insurance coverage varies widely for Levitra and Viagra. Many insurance companies do not cover these drugs, or may have a quantity limit (for example, four tablets per month).

A standard prescription of 10, 10 mg vardenafil (generic Levitra) tablets cost about $450 to over $500 without insurance. You can use a SingleCare coupon to get a prescription filled for as low as $365.

A standard prescription of 10, 50 mg sildenafil (generic Viagra) tablets is comparable to Levitra but a SingleCare discount card can reduce the price to $150-$300 depending on which pharmacy you use. Another cheaper alternative is to check out our partnership with Lemonaid Health where you can get Sildenafil for as little as $2 per pill.

  Levitra Viagra
Typically covered by insurance? Coverage varies Coverage varies
Typically covered by Medicare Part D? No No
Standard dosage #10, 10 mg tablets #10, 50 mg tablets
Typical Medicare copay Varies (patients often pay out of pocket) Varies (patients often pay out of pocket)
SingleCare cost $365+ $150+ or $2 with promo

Common side effects of Levitra vs. Viagra

The most common side effects of Levitra and Viagra are headache, flushing, stuffy nose, and indigestion.

Other side effects may occur. This is not a complete list. Consult your ED healthcare provider for medical advice.

   Levitra Viagra
Side Effect Applicable? Frequency Applicable? Frequency
Headache Yes 15% Yes 16-28%*
Flushing Yes 11% Yes 10-19%
Rhinitis (nasal congestion) Yes 9% Yes 4-9%
Indigestion Yes 4% Yes 3-17%
Dizziness Yes 2% Yes 3-4%
Nausea Yes 2% Yes 2-3%
Back pain Yes 2% Yes 3-4%

*Side effect percentages of Viagra vary by dosage
Source: DailyMed (Levitra), DailyMed (Viagra)

Drug interactions of Levitra vs. Viagra

Levitra and Viagra should never be used with nitrates, such as nitroglycerin. The combination is contraindicated (should not be used) because it could result in dangerously low blood pressure. Alpha blockers, such as alfuzosin, terazosin, or tamsulosin, can cause the same effect of low blood pressure when taken with Levitra or Viagra. Any antihypertensives (medications to lower blood pressure) in combination with Levitra or Viagra can also interact, causing low blood pressure.

Levitra or Viagra can also interact with azole antifungals, protease inhibitors, and macrolide antibiotics. Other drug interactions may occur; consult your healthcare professional for a full list of drug interactions.

Drug Drug Class Levitra Viagra
Nitroglycerin Nitrates Yes Yes
Alfuzosin
Terazosin
Tamsulosin
Alpha blockers Yes Yes
Amlodipine
Losartan
Lisinopril
Metoprolol
etc.
Antihypertensives Yes Yes
Ketoconazole
Fluconazole
Itraconazole
Azole antifungals Yes Yes
Indinavir
Ritonavir
Protease inhibitors Yes Yes
Erythromycin
Azithromycin
Clarithromycin
Macrolide antibiotic Yes Yes (but not azithromycin)

Warnings of Levitra and Viagra

  • Levitra or Viagra should not be given with any nitrate medication (such as nitroglycerin), because the combination can lead to a dangerous decrease in blood pressure.
  • Cardiovascular health should be evaluated. If a patient has certain heart/blood pressure problems, the medication may be unsafe. Consult your healthcare provider.
  • Use with caution in patients with anatomical deformations of the penis.
  • Rarely, prolonged erection (over 4 hours) or priapism (painful erection over 6 hours) may occur. If an erection lasts longer than 4 hours, seek immediate medical care. Failing to treat this immediately could result in permanent damage.
  • Stop taking Levitra or Viagra and seek immediate medical care if you have a sudden loss of vision in one or both eye(s). Although rare, this could be a sign of non-arteritic anterior ischemic optic neuropathy (NAION), which is a rare condition and a cause of decreased vision, which could lead to permanent vision loss.
  • Stop taking Levitra or Viagra and seek immediate medical care if you have a sudden loss of hearing.
  • Dosage adjustment is required for patients with moderate liver issues. Levitra or Viagra should not be used in patients with severe liver problems.
  • Patients on dialysis should not use Levitra or Viagra.
  • Because these medications do not protect against sexually transmitted diseases (STD), patients should use protective measures, such as condoms.

Although both drugs are indicated in men, they are sometimes used off-label in women. However, there is no data on either drug in pregnant women. Therefore, Levitra or Viagra should not be used in pregnant women.

Frequently asked questions about Levitra vs. Viagra

What is Levitra?

Levitra (vardenafil) is a prescription medication approved by the FDA for the treatment of erectile dysfunction (ED). The brand-name product is a Bayer product, and it is also available in generic by several manufacturers.

What is Viagra?

Viagra (sildenafil) is an FDA-approved prescription medication used to treat erectile dysfunction. The brand-name product is a Pfizer product, and it is also available in generic by several manufacturers.

You may have also heard of Revatio being used for ED in place of Viagra. Revatio is another drug that contains sildenafil, the same ingredient in Viagra. Revatio is indicated for the treatment of pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH), and works by dilating the blood vessels in the lungs. Although Revatio is used for PAH, it is often prescribed off-label for ED. Sometimes, if insurance does not cover brand or generic Viagra, a doctor may prescribe Revatio, which is usually covered by insurance.

Are Levitra and Viagra the same?

Both drugs are in the same category of medications and work in the same way. However, some patients prefer one over the other. Ask your doctor if one of these drugs is right for you.

Is Levitra or Viagra better?

Both drugs are very similar in terms of efficacy, side effects, and drug interactions. Talk to your doctor to help you determine if Levitra or Viagra may be better for you.

Can I use Levitra or Viagra while pregnant?

Levitra and Viagra are not indicated for use in women but sometimes used off-label for female sexual arousal disorder. However, because there is no data about the use of these medications in pregnancy; Levitra or Viagra should not be used in pregnant women.

Can I use Levitra or Viagra with alcohol?

Alcohol can reduce the chance of getting an erection, so it is advisable not to take Levitra or Viagra with alcohol.

Is 20 mg Levitra equal to 100 mg Viagra?

The highest dose of Levitra is 20 mg, and the highest dose of Viagra is 100 mg. That being said, Levitra tends to be more potent than Viagra, and may require a lower dose. Your doctor can help you determine the dose that is right for you.

Does Levitra have fewer side effects than Viagra?

The side effects of Levitra and Viagra are similar, and seem to occur at similar rates, although more side effects may occur at higher doses.

Can you mix Viagra with Levitra?

Taking two ED medications together is not recommended. If you are taking an ED medication that is not working, talk to your doctor about trying a different one, and/or consider lifestyle factors.

Is Cialis stronger than Viagra?

Cialis lasts up to about 18 hours, while Viagra lasts up to about 6 hours. Both drugs seem to be similarly effective, but the effects of Cialis lasts longer.

What is the most effective ED drug?

All of the ED drugs have been shown to be effective in clinical studies. Talk to your doctor to determine if an ED drug is appropriate for you.