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New Drink Comes From Sweden - With Love

Thousands of bottles of Nexcite, a Swedish beverage known as "Viagra for women," went on sale in Shanghai and Beijing Friday.

The concoction reportedly contains a blend of "love herbs" that can put women in a romantic mood in about 20 minutes, without adverse side effects.

The distributor predicts the 20,000 bottles allotted to Shanghai will be sold out within days.

"Chinese have a sense of romance deep inside their hearts," said Hu Chuanping, president of Silicon Valley Raise China Inc., the domestic distributor. "They used to be conservative when expressing their feelings. But the situation is changing, especially among younger generations."

Made with South American herbs, such as damiana, schizandra and ginseng, Nexcite is priced at 68 yuan (US$8.20) per bottle and each bottle contains one serving. It is available at Parkson Shopping Center and two Pacific Department Store branches in Shanghai, and two stores in Beijing.

Industry officials said they are worried about easy access to the product.

"I'm not familiar with the drink, but it definitely has a different function," said an official at Shanghai Food Industry Investment Co., who declined to be identified. "Every one, including juveniles, can get it if they want. This could cause problems."

The US Food and Drug Administration has defined Nexcite as a "dietary supplement," making it available without a prescription at supermarkets and drugstores. However, it must contain a health-warning label.

The name of the drink was changed from Niagara to Nexcite in July, after Pfizer Pharmaceutical, maker of Viagra, settled a lawsuit against its producer, claiming that the rhyming name and blue color represented a "scheme to mislead and confuse consumers."

Invented by Swedish manu-facturer Nordic Drinks in 1999, the drink is packaged in blue bottles. It has been introduced to more than 10 countries, including the United States, Japan and Germany.

The manufacturer claims sales of hundreds of thousands bottles a year.

And what does the public think about the concoction?

"My biggest concern is that will it lead to long-term side effects that can not be observed right now," said Wei Qian, an advertising agency employee in Shanghai.

(eastday.com April 27, 2002)

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