Drug company’s controversial report reignites debate on erectile dysfunction

By Zhao Yusha Source:Global Times Published: 2018/5/22 18:58:39

A man passes by a store that sells viagra in Nanjing, Jiangsu Province on November 23, 2013. Photo: VCG

Erectile dysfunction among Chinese men is again being hotly discussed after a drug company came out with a report saying one in five Chinese men suffer from the problem.

Hebei Changshan Biochemical Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd (Changshan Biochemical) said last week that its subsidiary in East China's Jiangsu Province has received a license to produce sildenafil citrate, to treat the disorder, which affects as many as 140 million Chinese men - roughly 20 percent of China's male population, the company said.

Shocked by the numbers, many netizens asked how reliable the report was. Amid the hullaballo, the company changed tack to say that the report was from Guosen Securities in 2014, and that it did not verify the data.

Changshan is not the only one to bring the issue into spotlight.

Chinese Medical Association, a social organization, once undertook research with some 10,000 respondents. Findings showed that 40.2 percent of over 40-year-old Chinese men suffered from erectile dysfunction, while an astonishing 89 percent aged between 25 to 50 were once tormented by prostatitis, sexual dysfunction and other problems, the Nanfang Daily said in 2017.

The survey said Chinese women are also the victims of this problem, for 21 percent claimed not to have experienced an orgasm.

Hard to measure

"It is very difficult or even impossible to accurately estimate the number of impotence patients. And most of these surveys did not provide details of how undertaken, which is unscientific," Peng Xiaohui, a sexology professor at Wuhan's Central China Normal University, told the Global Times.

He claimed that companies and some experts publish such data to boost sales of medicines.

In the decades that followed, China saw a huge rise in the number of men seeking treatment for impotence. Clinics offering treatments involving traditional Chinese medicine and Western remedies — including Viagra, sprang up.

Old Chinese thinking says that animals' organs can help cure impotence among men. These include tiger bone, snake and pangolin.

A kilogram of tiger-bone liquor is priced up to 2,800 yuan ($438), said dbw.cn, a news site affiliated to government of China's northeastern Heilongjiang province.

"Chinese men believe animal genitals can enhance their sexual capacity, that's why sex organs of dog, tiger, deer are common ingredients in the Chinese-style 'viagra'," a doctor surnamed Cheng, from the First Affiliated Hospital of Chongqing Medical University, told the Global Times.

Sometimes even genital-shaped vegetables, like carrots, ginseng, and even herbs are believed to be beneficial, said Cheng.

He noted that these "natural remedies" can help little with the problem, while the infamous blue pill is by far the ideal solution for most patients.

Ripping the veil

Concern about impotence in China first left the bedroom and entered broad daylight back in 2500BC, when a textbook of traditional Chinese medicine noted a potion created from 22 ingredients concocted to help an emperor bed with 1,200 women.

An emperor of the Western Han Dynasty (206BC-AD25) was rumored to have died after one of his concubines gave him too much "Viagra", which was made of kallaite, ochre and other stones.

There are some with grotesque tastes, relying on snot, virgin's menstrual blood, human milk, and even urine to perform better in bed.

Jiang Hui, director of the anthology department at the Chinese Medical Association, told Life Times, that Chinese men present a strange mix of being too reluctant to seek medical support and too misinformed about sexual problems.

"Many modern Chinese men are too stressed out by work and other issues. They just sit all day long and hold their pee very often, which is not good for the prostate gland," Cheng said.

Newspaper headline: An impotent problem


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