Health

Sanofi acquires over-the-counter rights for Cialis

French drugmaker Sanofi is buying the rights to seek approval for a version of the erectile dysfunction drug Cialis that customers would be able to buy without a doctor's prescription.

Sanofi will acquire the rights from its U.S. counterpart Eli Lilly and Co. for the United States, Europe, Canada and Australia under the deal. Lilly spokeswoman Celeste Stanley says they don't expect to launch such a version before 2018.

Cialis is currently sold only through prescription. It brought in $2.16 billion in worldwide sales last year, but it will lose patent protection in the U.S. and other markets in 2017. That will expose the drug to competition from cheaper, generic versions.

Terms of the Sanofi-Lilly deal were not disclosed.