On the Beat | By Wong Chun Wai

All that fuss over new potency pill

For many Malaysian men with  erectile dysfunction, it is, of  course, no laughing matter.

Like their brethren elsewhere  with
similar problems, they are  toasting over
the invention of the  remedy.

Aptly called wai kor  (great  brother) in Cantonese, Viagra has  been hailed by men all over the  world as the best invention this  century.

They can hardly be blamed for  their
frenziness. After all, they  have read
about the 70-year-old  American who
dumped his 61-year old lover after just two days on the  drug.

Revitalised and recharged, he  must have
decided to walk away in  search of
someone more exciting,  probably to make
up for his years  of deprivation.

Even former US presidential candidate Bob Dole admitted having  tried the drug after winning his  battle against prostate cancer.

In a recent television interview,  Dole
said “I wish I'd bought stock 

One newspaper reported that 60 
Malaysians had tested the drug and 
42 of the volunteers swore it was 

The 60, the report added, had taken part in clinical tests last year  when the manufacturer of the drug  was conducting tests in several  South-East Asian countries.

The uncomfirmed report, however, did not say who had testified to  the effectiveness of the drug  the 
men or their partners.

Another report said the little blue 
tablet was now available under the 
counter in Kelantan, especially 
along the border towns of Rantau 
Panjang and Pengkalan Kubor.

But there is reason to believe  that
these tablets are fakes, probably manufactured by small-town  quacks.

The Viagra pill, which is seemingly “safe'' 
with side-effects  ranging from a
headache to a  flushed face and “blue
vision'' purportedly caused by overuse 
is  being sold at between US$7
and  US$10.

Only the United States and Brazil  have
registered the drug, developed by the New York drug giant  Pfizer Inc.

Asked whether these pills had  been
smuggled into Malaysia,  Health Minister
Datuk Chua Jui  Meng said no official
report had  been received on the

“I have not set eyes yet on one  single
Viagra tablet although I've  heard so
much about it,'' he said.

The ministry is, in fact, investigating reports that the drug or its  imitation is being sold at between  RM30 and RM300 a pill.

Judging by the response from the  public,
news reports on the drug  certainly sell

For many Egyptian newspapers,  Viagra is
front-page material. Although banned in Egypt, the drug is  said to be easily available in Cairo.

It's the same in Malaysia. A colleague who wrote a satirical piece  on Viagra was swamped with calls  from desperate Malaysians who  wanted further information.

The drug has spawned many  jokes.

“Biar mati anak, jangan mati pucuk,'' said a Malay friend, playing  on the saying biar mati anak, jangan mati

Another joke tells of a Malaysian  who
was taking his first Viagra. In  his
haste, the excited chap found  the pill
stuck in his throat and immediately consulted his doctor.

The general practitoner, who did  not
even take a second look at his  patient, advised:
“Take lots of water, don't eat oily food, you just  have a stiff neck.''

Then there's the one about a  group of
pensioners who sat down  to grumble about
the country's economic woes and the water crisis.  Soon, Viagra became the topic of  conversation.

“My life is already hard enough.  I
don't need a Viagra,'' one of them  was
prompted to say.

Of sobre concern now is the  availability
of drug in Malaysia.  According to
industry sources, it  should be on sale
by the year's end.

There is no doubt that Viagra will  be a
gold mine for Pfizer. Its local  managing
director Razmi Rahmat  said he had lost
count on enquiries  received.

But no one is ready to say how  much
Malaysians would have to  fork out for
the drug, prompting  Chua to say “we would
rather have  no Viagra than to be
subjected to  (price)

Urging Pfizer to be sensitive on 
pricing, he said the drug must be 
made affordable “because we are 
in an economic crisis.''

Malaysians who have been suffering from impotency for years  are unlikely to be as calm and rational as

As the saying goes, man cannot  live on
bread and water alone. Economic crisis or not, certain things  must go on in life.

But Malaysians should not fuss  too much
over Viagra. We have had  tongkat ali for
years, and those who  have tried it say
it works.

It's still a Malaysian secret simply because we are not so good at  international marketing and promotions.
Perhaps Malaysians  should stick to
buying local products which can stand up to the test.