Nitroglycerine and Sex

Nitroglycerine is best known for being the explosive substance you daren’t drop if you’re in a 1950s B movie. But, it also has several medical applications including acting as a vasodilator in the treatment of angina. It was in searching for novel and patentable drugs with similar activity that led to the discovery of Viagra, an experimental drug originally destined for the heart, which found itself pumping blood in an altogether different physiological venue.

Now, nitrogylcerine, or glycerine trinitrate as The Times (London) referred to it yesterday, is set to enter clinical trials as a topical alternative to Viagra and other impotence treatments.

Topical, you say? Doesn’t that mean it has to be rubbed in?

Indeed, Futura Medical in collaboration with GlaxoSmithKline, hope to market a gel that would be applied directly to the penis, cause vasodilation, and that blood pumping we mentioned earlier. The trials will also investigate the effects the gel has on women who share the experience of topical application with a male partner. Why the ladies don’t get their own separate trial The Times does not say. Of course, nitroglycerine is well known for causing headaches, so there’s a little, or big, wedge of irony in any such trial, surely?

Futura and GSK expect the new product codenamed MED2002, for some odd reason, to pass muster with the regulators in 2008 (so why didn’t they call it MED2008?) and be marketed soon thereafter as an over-the-counter, or maybe under-the-counter-in-a-brown-paper-bag, product.

In the meantime, we now have another product for the spammers to add to their list of fake Rx sales, so watch out for spams with subject lines containing – MED2oo2, M@d2002, Medd2002, etc etc, ad infinitum.

9 thoughts on “Nitroglycerine and Sex”

  1. @Ajog What an ignorant comment. As if not smoking and not drinking and looking after one’s health were the only causes of ED. Ever heard of spinal injury?

  2. “Futura and GSK expect the new product codenamed MED2002, for some odd reason, to pass muster with the regulators in 2008 (so why didn’t they call it MED2008?) and be marketed soon thereafter as an over-the-counter, or maybe under-the-counter-in-a-brown-paper-bag, product.”

    Here I agree,

    Radon

  3. Dr Kiley (are you really an MD?). I’m not sure what point you’re trying to make, this tongue-in-cheek blog post was simply reporting that this drug has entered another trial and pointing out that it not only offers several intriguing ironies, but should also provide spammers yet more fodder for their inane comments. By the way your spelling/typing in this comment is atrocious – vasodilaors? symtoms? eelderly? sexual active?)

    db

  4. Nitroglycerine sublingual tablets, being vasodilaors, do increase levels of nitric oxide. The drug is usually well tolerated. Amyl nitrate causes much more vasodilition and more profound symtoms such as increased heart rate, lower blood pressure etc.
    Nitroglcerine sublingual tablets have been used for decades by the eelderly population, with minimal side effects.
    Theroretically, this drug could be used during sexual active and should act similar to amyl nitrate, though it would be a less potent vasodilator.
    As a physician, I am quite familar with the tolerance of nitrogylcerine in most patients.
    Your thoughts on this?

  5. I know exactly what you mean Dan! I wasn’t being picky about the chronology for the sake of it but just to let sciencebase readers know how long it is the NO story has been worked on and to allude to just how long it takes for such discoveries to filter through into the world of applications.

    You don’t have a link for that ad on the web do you? Maybe I’ll get my cartoonist friend Peter Welleman to rustle something up showing the transparency of pharmaceutical gels!

  6. The reference to a nitroglycerin gel brings to mind a rather graphic ad that ran in some German journal (Arzneimittel Forschung?) back some years ago. The ad depicted a man rubbing the gel on his chest presumably to treat angina. His chest was however quite transparent so that he seemed to be administering the gel directly to his heart!

    The term “some years ago” above is prompted by the age-induced error in the last posting…everything happened longer ago that one recalls.

  7. Thanks for the comment Dan.

    It is of course the alkyl nitrites, rather than alkyl nitrates that are commonly used as “poppers” for enhanced sexual excitement. To quote from Wikipedia: “Physical effects include headache, flushing of the face, decrease in blood pressure, increase in pulse, dizziness and relaxation of involuntary muscles, especially the blood vessel walls and the anal sphincter.” So, those headaches do seem to be common to the NO drugs.

    Incidentally, the discovery that nitric oxide (NO) is a signalling molecule with a vasodilatory and other roles was made in the 1980s and first announced publically by Furchgott and Ignarro twenty years ago in 1986 at a scientific meeting.

  8. For quite some time now, thrill seekers have inhaled amyl nitrate in order to enhance sexual excitement. This compound, like nitroglycerine or for that matter any of the “nitro” drugs for treating angina, acts via the release of NO. It was found about ten or so years ago that this very simple compound is released in the body and involved in a number of physiolgical responses. A number of direct acting vasodilators in fact act via NO.

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