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Will the"New" Female Viagra Drugs Work?

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(Article changed on July 12, 2013 at 10:12)

It has only been three years since excitement over a "female Viagra" dwindled like a pre-Viagra Age erection. Flibanserin, made by the German company Boehringer Ingelheim, was developed for the growing "disease" of women's "hypoactive sexual desire disorder" (HSDD). The new disease was advertised by Boehringer Ingelheim with an aggressive campaign called "Sex Brain Body: Make the Connection" starring TV personality Lisa Rinna. [1]

While the media dubbed flibanserin the "pink Viagra," it did not increase blood flow to the genitalia like the male Viagra drug but increased the desire for sex--at least theoretically.



Will the female Viagra drugs work? by Martha Rosenberg

But, despite medical and media excitement about flibanserin and pleas from Big Pharma, Wall Street, husbands, boyfriends and women, the FDA rejected flibanserin in 2010--not for its side effects like dizziness, nausea and sleepiness but because it didn't seem to work. Why did it seem to work for trial participants who reportedly would not surrender the pills after the trial? "Placebo" reactions are common in libido drugs because sexuality has such a strong mental component and lends itself to suggestibility.

Now with similar fanfare, a new "pink Viagra" has surfaced, starring on the cover of the New York Times magazine in June and anchoring a heavily promoted book called What Do Women Want? by Times writer Daniel Bergner. The new Viagra is actually two pills made by the Dutch drug company Emotional Mind. [2] Lybrido contains testosterone and sildenafil, the active ingredient in Viagra and Lybridos contains testosterone with the antidepressant buspirone, a drug similar to the nixed flibanserin mentioned above. [3] The drugs have a peppermint-flavored testosterone coating said to "melt in the mouth" allowing the second ingredient to kick in. They are advancing in the FDA approval process and expected to be cleared for larger clinical trials soon. If all goes well, they could be on the market in two years.

Both drugs contain testosterone but a testosterone patch made by Procter & Gamble to increase women's sexual desire has already been rejected by the FDA. Intrinsa produced only "small improvements in sexual parameters and large placebo responses," said a review that proved a nail in the drug's coffin. "Unwanted side effects are common and not always reversible." [4] Who can guess what those side effects are? Nor did it help that three women testified during FDA hearings for Intrinsa that they had developed breast cancer while using it. [5]

Since Margaret Sanger [6] launched the US birth control movement in 1916 and the Pill became available 50 years later, women are supposedly free to be as lustful or aggressive as they want--untethered by pregnancy concerns. Yet there is still pressure to be more sexual as the very term "hypoactive sexual desire disorder" shows. There is also pressure to be less sexual and male researchers actually worried women would become sexual aggressors on Lybrido and Lybridos, according to published reports! How about let women make those decision themselves?

Of course there is no assurance that Lybrido and Lybridos will be approved or work in the women, if they are. But, like other everyday conditions made into illnesses like insomnia, moodiness, heartburn, hay fever and normal child behaviors, if approved, female libido drugs could be the next big thing for Pharma and Wall Street.



[1] Lisa Rinna on Sex, Brain, Body Connection, CBS News, May 19, 2010

 

Martha Rosenberg is an award-winning investigative pubic health reporter who covers the food, drug and gun industries. Her first book, Born With A Junk Food Deficiency: How Flaks, Quacks and Hacks Pimp The Public Health, is distributed by Random (more...)
 

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