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New designer drug in sex supplement Megaton 2080

Red ginseng. According to the manufacturers, this is the active ingredient in the "all-natural lifestyle enhancement supplement" Megaton 2080. Researchers at Seoul National University dare to disagree. They identified a new designer analogue of vardenafil the active ingredients in Levitra in the pricey pills.

New designer drug in sex supplement Megaton 2080
In Korea, red ginseng is a bit like wine is for the French, or olive oil for the Italians and Greeks. It's an economically important crop. Which is why Korea was happy with scientific studies that showed that red ginseng may help relieve impotence. [J Urol. 2002 Nov; 168(5): 2070-3.] [Asian J Androl. 2007 Mar; 9(2): 241-4.] [Br J Clin Pharmacol. 2008 Oct; 66(4): 444-50.] Because cultivating ginseng is a laborious process, and because the market for sex supplements is still growing, Korean researchers are now searching for a way of getting the erection enhancing substances out of ginseng using biotechnology methods. [Asian J Androl. 2009 May; 11(3): 356-61.]

If a company then launches a sex supplement containing red ginseng with lots of promotion and somewhat dubious claims, Korean government officials' ears prick up. Surely it doesn't contain substances that shouldn't be found in it, they ask themselves. This Megaton is not going to damage the reputation of our red ginseng? Better test it just to make sure.

And lo and behold. Researchers at Seoul University order a jar of Megaton 2080 from the US [but produced in Korea], and subject it to all kinds of tests. Their quest is successful, as they find a hitherto unknown analogue of vardenafil in it. Its structural formula is shown below. And underneath that is the structural formula of vardenafil as it's found in Levitra.

The designers of the analogue replaced the sulfonyl group in vardenafil with an acetyl group. In fact the researchers named the new analogue acetylvardenafil.

New designer drug in sex supplement Megaton 2080

By the way, the researchers found no ginseng at all in Megaton 2080. The supplement contains the mushroom Ganoderma lucidum [8 percent, as mentioned on the label], vitamin C [15 percent] and brewer's yeast.

J Pharm Biomed Anal. 2011 Feb 20;54(3):491-6.

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