Development of artificial musk


Musk, the precious Chinese medicinal material, is credited with the effects of inducing resuscitation, promoting blood circulation, detumescence, relieving Pain, etc. The Chinese patent medicines containing musk account for more than 11% in the national Chinese patent medicine formulary, some of which were considered as national treasure and embodied in Chinese Pharmacopoeia, such as AngongNiuhuangWan, JufangZhibao San and Zixue.The annual demand for musk is more than 15tons; however, in the present, a limited amount of 50,000 male musk deerinhabit in China. Only 0.5 ton musk could be obtained, even if all the existing male musk deer were hunted for musk sampling. Therefore, the imbalance between supply and demand of musk is increasingly obvious day by day. The research of artificial musk, led by the Ministry of Health, P.R.China was started up as a top secret project in 1975.


In this project, 6 kinds of main constituents including more than 100 compounds were systematically isolated and elucidated for the first time and their content in natural musk was analyzed. Second, many new developed pharmacological methods indicating the effects of natural musk in neuroendocrine, cardio-cerebrovascular, anti-inflammation, immunity, etc., were set up by 29 indexes in 16 kinds of animal models. These methods, for the first time, proved the functional effect of natural musk, filled the gap in modern pharmacological materials of natural musk, and further solved the problem as how to evaluate

artificial musk. Third, the large-molecular key pharmacodynamic substances in natural musk were discovered, which settled the most difficult problem of developing artificial musk. Fourth, by using the bionics-based methodology as the similarity of chemical constituents, the consistency of bioactivity, the comparability of physicochemical properties, safety and low toxicity, the unique composing prescription was put forward. According to the prescription, preclinical and clinical trials were implemented and the artificial musk with a similar property to natural musk was developed as State Category I New Drug. Finally, after tremendous verification and validation of the process conditions and critical process parameters, the industrialized production was successfully fulfilled.


This project radically solved the historical difficult problem of musk deficiency in long-term supply, ensuring the production of the Chinese patent medicine (containing musk),and meet the important needs of the nation. Up to now, the market share of artificial musk is above 99% and more than 90tons of artificial musk has been sold cumulatively, which means that the success of this project has protected more than 26,000,000 musk deer from being hunted just for musk sampling .Moreover, the expense using artificial musk is 30%–50% lower than using natural musk and more than 100 million patients get benefits from it annually.