Controversial ‘female Viagra’ approved

The first prescription drug designed to
boost women’s sexual desire will soon be
available. After twice rejecting flibanserin
for failing to show significant benefits,
the U.S. Food and Drug Administration
(FDA) last week finally gave Sprout
Pharmaceuticals’ controversial drug the
green light. The “little pink pill” will be
on pharmacy shelves by October and
sold under the brand name Addyi. “This
is the biggest breakthrough for women’s
sexual health since the pill,” says
Sally Greenberg, head of the National
Consumers League. But the drug has
sharply divided consumer advocates,
with some insisting flibanserin’s side
effects do not justify its modest benefits,
The New York Times reports. “It does not
appear to be a very effective drug,” says
Kim Wallen, a sex researcher at Emory
University, predicting there will be “many
disappointed women.” The drug, which
is approved for an unexplained loss of
libido, only benefits from 8 percent to
13 percent of the women who take it, the
FDA said, and these women experience
an average of just 0.5 additional sexual
events per month. The FDA warns that
flibanserin can cause drowsiness, dizziness,
fainting, and low blood pressure.
Alcohol can worsen these side effects.
Initially developed as an antidepressant,
flibanserin works by altering women’s
brain chemistry to create enhanced
desire. (Viagra uses a much simpler
process—increasing blood flow to the
penis.) Flibanserin may take four weeks
to produce effects, if it works at all.


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