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Gender, Government, Health Care, Healthcare, Public Health, Public Policy, Science, Women's Health

‘Female Viagra’ May Soon Be A Reality

female viagra 3

The first-ever “female Viagra” may soon be reality, culminating years of contentious efforts to introduce a libido drug for women. After twice rejecting the drug, a U.S. Food and Drug Administration advisory panel gave its stamp of approval Thursday to flibanserin, a new pill designed to boost low sexual desire in otherwise healthy women.

The advisory committee voted 18 to 6 to approve the first-of-its-kind medication, as long as steps are taken to minimize the risk of side effects.

The little pink pill–a fitting companion to Viagra’s memorable blue hue– would be taken every evening and would be approved for use in premenopausal women with what’s known as hypoactive sexual desire disorder. It’s a condition said to affect 7% of premenopausal women that results in an unusually low sex drive that’s not being caused by any disease or other condition, according to Sprout Pharmaceuticals, which owns the drug.

The company says it works by altering chemicals in the brain to increase a woman’s sexual desire (unlike Viagra, which increases blood flow to certain parts of the body). Studies have documented a statistically significant increase in women’s ability to achieve orgasm after taking flibanserin. However, women who took the drug in trials reported no more than one additional “sexually satisfying event” per month than women who received a placebo.

Thursday’s vote comes 17 years after the FDA approved Viagra, the incredibly profitable erectile dysfunction treatment. Since then, more than two dozen prescription drugs have been approved to assist with male sexual performance, but none for women.

The FDA has already rejected flibanserin twice to date, arguing that its side effects don’t outweigh the risks. Some women’s groups claimed gender bias give that the governmental agency has approved drugs like Viagra for men but left half the population without an option.

However, the FDA countered in its previous reviews that the benefits were “numerically small but statistically significant” and not enough to counter the resulting low blood pressure, fainting, sleepiness, nausea and dizziness.

The FDA is set to make a final decision on the drug in August, and while the agency generally follows to the panelists’ vote, it is not bound to adhere to it.

 

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