Thailand to sell generic Viagra drug

BANGKOK - Thailand has approved an affordable generic version of the anti-impotence drug Viagra to go on sale next week, as the country looks to combat rampant counterfeit production, officials said Wednesday.

The Thai diamond-shaped little blue pill, which resembles the original produced by US pharmaceutical giant Pfizer, is called "Sidegra" and will be available on prescription across the country on October 1.

Priced at 25 baht (80 US cents) per pill, Thailand's Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said it will be ten times cheaper than full-price Viagra.

"This measure will solve widespread production of fake drugs by increasing accessibility to the legal version," FDA secretary general Pipat Yingseree said in a statement.

The release said Pfizer had since looked to discount its pills by 30 percent to "cooperate with the government on curbing fake drugs". "Pfizer is selling at a discount to be able to compete with our Sidegra," said an official at the state-run Government Pharmaceutical Organisation, which is producing the drug.

No one from Pfizer's offices in Thailand was available for comment. An FDA official said the US company's patent to produce the anti-impotence drug had expired in Thailand. Fake sex drugs are openly on sale on street stalls targeting tourists around the red light districts of the Thai capital.

In a raid on a Bangkok warehouse in July, Thai police seized several hundred thousand purported sex enhancement and aphrodisiac pills and a large haul of sex toys, worth an estimated $3.2 million.

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