Advertisement
Tech by VICE

The FDA Has Approved a Drug for Women's Libido—But Don't Call It 'Pink Viagra'

Welcome to Earth, please enjoy your stay.

by Nicholas Deleon
Aug 19 2015, 2:42pm

Image: Sprout Pharmaceuticals

The Food and Drug Administration has just approved a new drug that's being marketed as a way to treat "women's most common form of sexual dysfunction."

The drug, flibanserin, also known by the brand name Addyi, is intended to treat what drug maker Sprout Pharmaceuticals calls hypoactive sexual desire disorder, or HSDD.

Both the drug and condition itself have been greeted with skepticism: the drug, initially developed by German pharmaceutical company Boehringer Ingelheim, was originally intended to treat depression, but was re-branded as a way to treat HSDD after current producer Sprout bought the rights to it in 2012.

The American Psychiatric Association doesn't even use the term "HSDD" to describe sexual dysfunction in women. Instead, the organization uses the term female sexual interest/arousal disorder, or FSIAD, which is defined as the lack of sexual interest or desire.

While some reports have compared Addyi to Viagra, in truth they're targeting different conditions. Viagra is used to treat a physical problem known as erectile dysfunction by increasing the flow of blood to the penis, while Addyi, according to Sprout, increases the production of dopamine and norepinephrine in the brain in an effort to increase sexual desire.

It should also be noted, however, that the FDA readily admits that the exact mechanism by which Addyi increases sexual desire "is not known." In fact, in trials only about 10 percent more women taking Addyi compared to women taking placebos reported "meaningful improvements in satisfying sexual events [and] sexual desire," according to the FDA.

The once-daily pill expected to become available in October. The FDA has warned that it may cause potentially serious side effects including low blood pressure and that it should not be taken with alcohol.