Blue House purchased lots of Viagra, prostate drug

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Blue House purchased lots of Viagra, prostate drug

The Blue House bought hundreds of erectile dysfunction pills in December 2015, according to Kim Sang-hee, a lawmaker of the main opposition Minjoo Party of Korea and member of the National Assembly’s Health and Welfare Committee.

Kim obtained a medicine purchase report from the Health Insurance Review and Assessment Service and made it public Wednesday.

According to the report, the Blue House purchased 60 Viagra pills and 304 Pal Pal Tab pills, a generic version of Viagra in Korea.

Blue House spokesman Jung Youn-kuk Wednesday confirmed that it purchased the erectile dysfunction medicines, but said they were to counter altitude sickness among presidential aides and employees during President Park Geun-hye’s trips to Africa. Jung said none of the pills was used.

Park visited Ethiopia, Uganda and Kenya in May 2016, whose capitals are at altitudes of 1,000 to 2,000 meters (3,281 to 6,562 feet). Minor symptoms of altitude sickness such as breathlessness may occur from altitudes of 1,500 meters.

Lee Sung-ho, Hallym University Medical Center’s urology professor, confirmed that erectile dysfunction drugs can be used for altitude sickness, as they expand blood vessels.

“Although it is true that erectile dysfunction pills can be used to treat altitude sickness,” Kang Don-woo, head of the S Clinic, a sexual health clinic in Gangnam District, Seoul, said, “it is questionable why [the Blue House] chose it over medicine for altitude sickness. Viagra is known to have many side effects, and providing it to people without proper prescriptions can be problematic.”

Besides the erectile dysfunction pills, the Blue House made 764 purchases of medicine from January 2014 to September this year, most of which were vitamin injections for fatigue relief and skincare injections similar to Botox.

It also bought 450 pills of Proscar Tab, used to treat both an enlarged prostate and hair loss, which were purchased on seven occasions from April 2014 to August this year. Six hundred pills of Circadin, used for insomnia, were bought from November to December last year.

BY JUNG JONG-HOON [kim.yuna1@joongang.co.kr]

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