Pink Viagra: The Big Frigidity Tester

6. July 2015
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By some it's eagerly desired so as to save their marriages, by others it's demonised as an ineffective remedy for a non-existent problem: the lust pill for women is about to be approved in the US. Is it high time? Or is an unsafe brew being pushed through?

“I want to desire my husband, it’s as simple as that. I implore you to give approval to flibanserin. I know, maybe it does not work for everyone, but it does for me and thousands of other women”; the words of a woman affected by an aversion to having sex while pleading to the expert panel of the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). With success – on the fourth of June 18 of the committee’s 24 experts recommended approving flibanserin. The little pink-coloured pill should in future pave a path for these women away from their aversion to having sex, thus protecting American marriages from disintegration.

Sexual lust made in Germany

The small relationship saver was developed in Germany by Boehringer Ingelheim. However after a negative FDA report due to a trial error, the German pharmaceutical company decided not to pursue the project any further. The FDA saw the effect of the drug at that time as not yet clearly proven. An American couple, however, was so convinced by the lust pill that it bought the rights to the research from Boehringer Ingelheim and continued this research in a company established for this purpose, Sprout Pharmaceuticals. Should flibanserin attain approval, it would be the first “lust pill for women” anywhere.

“Pink Viagra” very different from Viagra

Just like Viagra (sildenafil), flibanserin was discovered accidentally. Boehringer Ingelheim wanted in actuality to develop a remedy against depression. Yet already in the first tests it was found that flibanserin can increase sexual desire in women. Although the drug is praised as being “Viagra for women”, the two agents have little in common. This is because female lack of lust cannot be addressed as easily as the male incapacity can. Viagra, which was originally supposed to become a blood pressure medicine, acts purely physically by ensuring that the erectile tissue in the male penis has better circulation. The erect penis in turn ensures sexual desire in men.

If any aspect of erection function does not run according to plan, a “man” can now already choose from as many as 25 medications for impotence. Affected women have access only to an extensive catalogue of excuses at best.

Only for women with HSDD

Female sexual aversion is more complex and therefore more difficult to resolve. Therefore flibanserin will only be able to help a minor number of women. This is because there are psychological factors often concealed behind female sexual aversion. These include difficulties in the partnership, stress, and excess demands at work or in daily life. Only around ten percent of women who do not feel like having sex suffer from HSDD. This is the abbreviation for so-called hypoactive sexual desire disorder – an under-active sexual desire, which is caused by a deficiency of neurotransmitters in the brain. Only those affected by this disorder could ever benefit from the “pink Viagra”. Flibanserin stimulates the production of the neurotransmitters dopamine and noradrenaline, which are regarded as desire-promoting. At the same time it inhibits the formation of the desire-inhibitor serotonin.

Far more than just displeasure

Gynaecologist Dr. Lauren Streicher informed ABC News that HSDD is far more than a temporary disinterest in sex. “A woman with HSDD does not think about sex, has no sexual fantasies and absolutely no desire to have sex”, says Streicher. “The big problem here is the consequence of sexual aversion”. Women with HSDD are extremely frustrated; relationships are shattered, she says.

Approval refused because of side effects

Sprout’s first clinical study involved the participation of more than a thousand women. The result, according to Sprout Pharmaceutical: On average, among the women using flibanserin the number of “sexually satisfying events” doubled and they reported an increase of sexual desire by 50 per cent. 15 percent of study participants however withdrew from the study because the side effects such as tiredness, dizziness and anxiety were too onerous. Subsequently, the FDA refused approval of the “pink Viagra” in December 2013.

Sexual pleasure: individual and variable

Hostile voices say that flibanserin is an ineffective drug for a non-existent problem. Even Dr. Adriane Fugh-Berman, Associate Professor at the Medical Center of Georgetown University, is opposed to the approval of the sex pill. “Of course, people’s sexual desires vary from person to person and also vary for the same person over the course of life, but this is still far from being a treatment-requiring condition”, she told ABC-News. “This drug has no or little effect and is supposed to be taken every night, this being imposed on a body already in a completely natural state”.

Speedy approval despite weak effect

Meanwhile, about 11,000 women have tested the “pink Viagra” in a total of three randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled studies. The overall result still leaves room for improvement: instead of previously indicating two to three “satisfying sexual moments” per month, the women undergoing flibanserin treatment reported of four such events. According to their own information, women do feel at least more sexual desire and increased overall well being. After Sprout also demonstrated that, despite the side effects, the ability of the subjects to drive was not affected, all avenues for the speedy approval of the lust pill have now been opened. In the not too distant future European women with HSDD could also get one more feeling of pleasure per month in exchange for a little more fatigue and dizziness, while filling the coffers of the manufacturers in a similar way to those being filled by the Viagra-consumers.

Studies on flibanserin:

Goldfischer, E.R. (2011): Continued efficacy and safety of flibanserin in premenopausal women with Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder (HSDD): results from a randomized withdrawal trial. J Sex Med. 2011 Nov;8(11):3160-72.

doi: 10.1111/j.1743-6109.2011.02458.x.

Derogatis, L.R. (2012): Treatment of hypoactive sexual desire disorder in premenopausal women: efficacy of flibanserin in the VIOLET Study. J Sex Med. 2012 Apr;9(4):1074-85.

doi: 10.1111/j.1743-6109.2011.02626.x.

Thorp, J. et al. (2012): Treatment of hypoactive sexual desire disorder in premenopausal women: efficacy of flibanserin in the DAISY study. J Sex Med. 2012 Mar;9(3):793-804.

doi: 10.1111/j.1743-6109.2011.02595.x.

Katz, M. et al. (2013): Efficacy of flibanserin in women with hypoactive sexual desire disorder: results from the BEGONIA trial. J Sex Med. 2013 Jul;10(7):1807-15.

doi: 10.1111/jsm.12189.

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1 comment:

Mrs Susan Hughes
Mrs Susan Hughes

i would be worried that some people may be pressurised into taking this when the problem is not HSDD but a bad relationship. It can be easier to claim lack of interest than openly state that the partner is a turn-off.

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