Viagra
The Argentinean government has produced its own version of Pfizer\'s Viagra (Reuters)

The Argentinean government has started giving out its own version of Viagra to men suffering from erectile dysfunction.

The country's Ministry of Health said 200,000 doses of its state-produced drug sildenafil will be given out free of charge throughout the province of Santa Fe, AFP reports.

Argentina took the decision to provide its erection-boosting drug to curb its misuse and to help those who suffer from other diseases it helps treat.

The drug is being produced by Lifse, the state-owned pharmaceutical company, and the government plans to make the drug available free of charge to the entire country eventually.

Sildenafil, most commonly known as Viagra, is also used to treat pulmonary arterial hypertension by relaxing the arterial wall, meaning the workload of the right ventricle is reduced.

Guillermo Cleti, director of the Argentinean drug company, said: "The most famous medication in the world for improving the quality of life - even though no-one is going to lose their life over it - is the first to be made by the state in Argentina.

Essential to life

"It's not only to attend to erectile dysfunction in men who need it, but also to avoid the abuse or bad use of the drug and to warn the population about its correct use."

According to Argentinean news website infobae.com, health minister Miguel Angel Cappiello said the state is also working on a syrup version of the drug to treat children with pulmonary hypertension.

"It will be a benefit for a large and growing group of patients," he said. "We produce the drug because there is a generic law that permits it ... We made ​​the decision that has to do with the health of the people."

The state-version of Viagra will be cheap than the current market version, he added: "Our cost of production is always less than what is sold in a pharmacy."

Cappiello also said that the drug will be given to people who suffer from erectile dysfunction as a side effect of other diseases: "Six or seven of every 100 people have diabetes, and one of the main complications is erectile sexual dysfunction.

"It may seem [that the drug] is not essential for life but I think so."