Female Viagra Nears Approval: What It Means for Your Libido

FlibanserinThe big news last week in sexual health was a Federal Drug Administration committee vote to approve the launch of Flibanserin, a drug that may boost a woman’s interest in having sex.

The effort to get to this point for the drug – the recommendation of an advisory committee tends to translate to formal FDA action – has taken 17 years, and has attracted both supporters and detractors from communities that include women’s groups, drug lobbyists and gynecologists.

In clinical trials, Flibanserin demonstrated that it could help women achieve one additional “sexually satisfying event” per month, especially pre-menopausal women who don’t have a known physical reason for lacking interest in sex.

The drug’s supporters think that’s great, and can’t wait to get their hands on the little pink pills. The drug’s detractors are worried about a couple of things. For one, they say that the rewards of Flibanserin – that one extra sexually satisfying event a month – aren’t worth the risks, which include low blood pressure, fainting, nausea and dizziness. They also worry that the release of Flibanserin will hurt research into more efficacious drugs for treating lack of sexual desire.

The advisory committee gave its approval conditioned on the manufacturer, Sprout Pharmaceuticals, taking steps to limit the risks of the drug, i.e. making sure that doctors warn patients about the side effects. The formal FDA vote is due by August 18th.

The drug’s path to approval is long and contentious. In 2010, an FDA committee instructed the drug’s then-owner, pharmaceutical giant Boehringer Ingelheim, to get better data and three years later, the drug was rejected before going to committee.

Picked up by Sprout Pharmaceuticals, the drug was given a public relations makeover, through a campaign named, “Even the Score,” a jab at all the FDA approvals given to drugs that treat erectile dysfunction.

But Flibanserin doesn’t work like Viagra or Cialis, which stimulate blood flow to the penis. Flibanserin is more similar to an anti-depressant, and goes to work on the neurotransmitters in the brain that affect sexual desire, including dopamine and norepinephrine.

Once it hits doctor’s prescription pads, we’ll interview some women who have used Flibanserin and let you know the score.

We at MiddleSexy support anything safe that helps women have more satisfying sex lives. And we know that it will be a few years before we have serious intelligence on how effective Flibanserin is for a broad audience. In the meantime, we hope that the pharmaceuticals industry will keep researching treatments that help women get excited and achieve orgasm.

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