Beijing slaps ban on leading Viagra-style drug

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 17 April, 1999, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 17 April, 1999, 12:00am

Beijing yesterday banned the best-known mainland version of the Viagra sex pill and ordered the company to recall all products within a month.


The announcement was the latest twist in the battle for market share in sex potency drugs. The fight was set off by the imminent arrival of the Viagra pill made by Pfizer of the United States, which is undergoing clinical trials in China.


In a notice in major newspapers, the State Pharmaceutical Supervision Management Bureau ordered the Shenyang Feilong (Flying Dragon) Health Products Company to stop selling its 'Weige Kaitai' pill and take back those already sold.


A company spokeswoman said that since the pill went on the market this year, 60 million yuan worth (HK$56 million) had been sold in 27 cities and provinces, with sales particularly good in Beijing.


'We are obeying the order and telling our agents nationwide to stop sales and recover the products,' she said. 'Our losses are extremely high.' The bureau said that when the company applied for approval for its pill it did not describe all its components, so the bureau approved a medicine different to that sold. In its advertisements, it made comparisons with other medicines, which was illegal.


'Most serious is that, without proper approval, the company made claims about the function of the medicine, printed an illegal explanation of it and misled consumers, causing a very bad influence.' The company spokeswoman said it was improper to consider its medicine counterfeit because there was something wrong with the manual. 'We are considering whether to sue the bureau.' The company is one of more than 30 firms which have filed applications to register the name 'Weige' meaning 'big brother'.


In March, the State Drug Administration issued a notice that all products bearing the name 'Weige' were fake and departments should stop selling them.


But a saleswoman at the medicine counter of the Friendship Store in Beijing said the Shenyang pill had been selling well, especially to foreigners, and that she was unaware of any ban.


Viagra sells on the black market for about 300 yuan a pill. Vendors say the product has been brought in from abroad but there are also many fakes.


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