Many miracles seem to reportedly take place in the mysterious country of North Korea. From claims of their former leader having golfed 11 holes-in-one, to developing a cure for AIDS, the Hermit Kingdom is never short of extraordinary claims.
Its latest contribution to society, however, won't be needing a healthy dose of miracles to be true. Instead, its latest pharmaceutical product — developed by the state-owned Korea Oriental Instant Medicinal Center — seems to work as it should: treating sexual dysfunction.
Called Neo-Viagra, the purported “herbal medicine” is being sold in North Korea for between $12 and $15, with indications of it being ready for export.
After being analyzed in a lab, Pfizer, the pharmaceutical corporation that manufactures the original Viagra, found that around 50-milligrams of sildenafil, the active synthetic ingredient in Viagra, was present in the North Korean version.
A lab analysis of the two also showed stark differences. Besides looking completely different — Neo-Viagra being brown granules contained in a vial, whereas Pfizer’s version is a signature blue pill — Pfizer sells Viagra with 25, 50, and 100-milligrams of sildenafil.
But the differences don’t end there. Not only is Neo-Viagra claimed to treat both female and male patients, according to The Washington Post, the packaging also claims to relieve back, shoulder and knee pain, ease paralysis, and alleviate “kidney malfunction, sciatic neuralgia, high blood pressure and brain artery hardening.”
This wouldn’t be the first time that North Korea has been caught hawking knock-offs of foreign products. In addition to manufacturing fake Viagra pills in the past, they’ve also been accused of producing counterfeit $100 “supernotes” and Marlboro cigarettes.
The isolated state has also been discovered to have a drug problem of a different sort. Reportshave sprouted with the notion that North Korea may be undergoing a major methamphetamine-abuse problem. Once a hub of opium production, after floods and natural disasters ruined their poppy farms, the state took to a different approach to producing a cheap and fast way of generating revenue in the black market.
It’s unclear whether or not this ambitious cure will ever make its way to consumers in the west, however, the product has already been found being sold in parts of China. As of now, North Korea may have to face legal ramifications — after The Post sent their sample of Neo-Viagra to Pfizer analysts, the pharmaceutical company stated that they were reviewing the possibility of patent or copyright infringements from North Korea.
All in all, illicit activities provide a major boost to the Hermit Kingdom's sidelined economy. A report from the Center for Strategic and International Studies estimates that North Korea earns annually "$15 million to $100 million from counterfeiting, $80-160 million from cigarette counterfeiting, and a total annual criminal activities income of $500 million to $1 billion."