Viagra for her: real or playing on a new insecurity

Hotly debated is the idea of the new pink pill, a Viagra for ladies that could always make her ‘in the mood', as the US Food and Drug Association (FDA) is scheduled to discuss approving the drug on June 18.

Boehringer Ingelheim, a German pharmaceutical company, is looking for the FDA's stamp approval to start marketing "flibanserin," a drug that will mess with chemicals in a woman's brain to increase her sexual appetite.

Many health professionals are, according to the Washington Post, calling for the FDA to deny the drug saying it does no good for women by inventing "fake" disorders (hypoactive sexual desire disorder [HSDD]), harmful side effect and can even prolong unhealthy and abusive relationships.

Similar to the drug company Pfizer's blue pill, known as Viagra, flibanserin's "sexual" benefits are secondary. The original R&D was to create an antidepressant, however the papers on current clinical and basic investigation by the scientific body The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists on May 17 include a 24-week long study by Canadian researchers that found "North American premenopausal women with generalized acquired hypoactive sexual desire disorder who received 24 weeks of treatment with flibanserin were more likely to report a meaningful improvement in their condition than women who received placebo." The study was funded by Boehringer Ingelheim. 

The "fake" disorder, or HSDD is loosely defined as a when a female has little or no sexual desire and activity over a period of time and it impacts her quality of lifestyle. One concern is that the makers are not sure how it works but think it drops the level of serotonin while increasing dopamine and norepinephrine; so far only slight side effects have been noted by Boehringer Ingelheim's head of clinical research, Michael Sand, including, nausea, dizziness and drowsiness.

Sand claims, "women deserve options and we're hoping flibanserin may represent a safe and effective option for many women." Whereas fierce opponents to the drugs approval argues, Ray Moynihan, an author and lecturer at the University of Newcastle, Australia, "people think they are sick when they are not. People become patients when they don't need to be." Moynihan's new book Sex, Lies and Pharmaceuticals slated to be released in October.

Leonore Tiefer, a clinical associate professor of psychiatry at the New York University School of Medicine said, "women's desire for sexual emancipation is very worthy. I fear that it's being hijacked by a profit-oriented industry that doesn't really try to understand women and their sexuality."

It will be interesting to see what the FDA decides and if the pink pill will be the next big drug trend.

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