Thai-made Viagra's rise

Sex is not just a means of satisfying a natural desire, it is about quality of life. But many Thais, particularly men, lack a quality sex life because they are impotent. One study showed that 37% of Thai men aged 40-70 have experienced erectile dysfunction. About 1.2 million Thai men are thought to have the problem.

HARD SELL: A Thai-made anti-erectile dysfunction drug sildenafil, sold under the trade name Sidegra, was launched this year.

Traditionally, drugs which cure erectile dysfunction require a doctor's prescription and tend to be imported, with a high price tag. That has opened an opportunity for trading on the black market. Drugs for treating impotency and obesity are the two most common types of counterfeit medicines sold in Thailand, the Food and Drug Administration says.

Good news emerged this year for men suffering from impotence, when the Government Pharmaceutical Organisation (GPO) introduced a locally made drug to cure impotence which sells for just 25-45 baht per pill, a fraction of the price of licensed alternatives.

The drug contains the generic ingredient sildenafil which has been produced and sold under several international brand names, including Viagra.

The GPO employs a different procedure to produce sildenafil, so the organisation insists it is not violating any international patent law. The GPO's sildenafil drug sells for 45 baht for a 100mg tablet and 25 baht for a 50mg pill.

Children, and patients with heart disease can also share in this inspiring development. Sildenafil was found to have a beneficial side-effect of curing cardiovascular disease and is normally prescribed to patients with heart disease.

The GPO insists the quality of locally made sildenafil is on a par with that of Viagra.

The drug underwent two years of research and experimentation to ensure its quality and effectiveness when compared to Viagra.As the anti-erectile dysfunction drug is categorised by the FDA as falling into a specially controlled drug group, patients still need a prescription to buy it, and can obtain the drug at around 350 FDA-certified pharmacies as well as public and private hospitals and clinics nationwide.

About the author

Writer: Soonruth Bunyamanee
Position: News Editor