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Pink Viagra: FDA considers libido-boosting pill for women

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Pink Viagra: FDA considers libido-boosting pill for women

 

Female version of Viagra, due for FDA consideration this June, is already a subject of controversy.

By Stephanie Rogers

Wed, May 26 2010 at 9:29 AM EST

 

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viagra-main.jpg Photo: samxmeg/iStockphoto

 

For over a decade, men with less-than-spectacular sex lives have been able to reach for a bottle of little blue pills. But according to the Washington Post, women who have bemoaned the lack of a similar option for ladies may soon get their wish in the form of flibanserin, a drug due for Food and Drug Administration (FDA) deliberation this June.

 

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The FDA's Reproductive Health Drugs Advisory Committee will meet on June 18 to discuss the drug, produced by German pharmaceutical giant Boehringer Ingelheim, but the pills are already considered controversial. Some wonder whether it's a step forward for women or another unnecessary medication.

 

"Achieving a happy and healthy sex life can be a real and important problem for some women," Amy Allina of the National Women's Health Network told the Washington Post. "But we have lots of questions about the 'pink Viagra'."

 

Viagra has been wildly successful over the years, but coming up with a counterpart for women was no easy task because female sexuality is much more complicated than male sexuality. While Viagra simply increases blood flow to male sex organs, a solution to spice up a woman's sex life requires a hormonal approach.

 

Boehringer Ingelheim stumbled on the sexually stimulatory effects of flibanserin by accident, finding through trials that while it didn't work for its original purpose as an antidepressant, the drug had the notable side effect of boosting a woman's libido.

 

Flibanserin will be marketed as treatment for “hypoactive sexual desire disorder” or HSDD, a term used for the unexplained loss of sexual desire in women.

 

Critics are skeptical of the disorder and of the pharmaceutical industry's role in defining HSDD as an official psychiatric disorder. The waning sexual desire in women is complex with many contributing factors including aging, other medical problems or dysfunctional relationships.

 

After a number of studies on more than 5,000 premenopausal women aged 18-50 in the U.S., it's still not clear exactly how flibanserin works beyond slightly adjusting the brain chemicals serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine. No serious complications have been reported.

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