An accountant turned sexual revolutionary, Siev Sophal, the managing director of (Cambodia) Medicures Pte Ltd, hopes his imported herbal pills will improve marital relations across Phnom Penh.
Previously a Cambodian Mine Action Center finance officer, then a US Embassy clerk, he launched the firm in May, selling VigRX—a herbal remedy that promises to bolster male virility, he said in an interview last week.
“I’m not a doctor. I spend a lot of time in front of the computer looking for new pills,” he said, an array of herbal remedies including a virility enhancement arm patch laid out on his desk.
“It’s time for men to know about their partners, to know about their partners’ needs,” he said. Women “don’t just want to live with their husbands to serve them,” he said, adding that VigRX was tested and then approved by the Ministry of Health on June 23.
The pills are bought from a wholesale distributor in the US and priced at $70 per bottle with promises of penis enlargement and an end to impotence, he said.
They are available at five pharmacies around Phnom Penh and are advertised in several newspapers.
“The pill is very new. In America it’s $100,” he said.
Little research has been done on the impact of herbal remedies in Cambodia, said Hara Srimuangboon, director of the Program for Appropriate Technology in Health, which works with pharmacies in Phnom Penh. But studies over the years have shown that people spend a significant amount of their earnings on Western medicines “that are not necessarily correct for the ailment they have,” she said.
Albion Medical, which advertises VigRX, says on its Web site that VigRX contains Asian red ginseng, catuaba bark extract and ginko biloba leaf, among other natural ingredients. Albion Medical describes the pills as “100 percent safe,” and Siev Sophal stresses that they are not a chemical treatment.
The Albion Medical Web site adds that its publicity statements have not been evaluated by the US Food and Drug Administration, and that VigRX is not intended to “diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.”
The FDA Web site advises people not to buy drugs that it has not given its approval to, adding that people should talk to a health care professional before using any medication for the first time.
“When it comes to buying medicine online, it’s important to be very careful. Some Web sites sell medicine that may not be safe to use and could put your health at risk,” the FDA says.
Before the Health Ministry approved the pills, Siev Sophal said he was already selling them to subsidize his US Embassy salary.
Tea Kim Chhay, a director of the ministry’s pharmacy department who signed the official documentation for VigRX, said Monday that she did not recall doing so.
Heng Huot, who is in charge of documents at the department, said five companies offering products for increased virility have been approved by the Health Ministry, though he did not recall VigRX.
The five “were tested rightly to make sure they are not dangerous,” he said, though he did not elaborate on the testing process.
In the coming six months, Siev Sophal hopes to be marketing a similar remedy that enhances the sex drive of women, which he hopes will also be approved by the ministry. In the meantime, he encourages men with the available funds not to be shy.
“One of my clients is opposite the office and is now on his third bottle,” he said. “You have to use four bottles to see the result. One bottle is nothing.”