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'Women's Viagra' Was Found in Shady Herbal Sex Pills

This is a drug that can't be mixed with a single drop of alcohol.

by Susan Rinkunas
Apr 21 2017, 3:18pm

Image: FDA/Flickr Creative Commons

Here's a bit of gender equality news for you: Just like Viagra has been known to show up in bodega boner pills for men, the prescription female libido drug Addyi has now been snuck into "natural" sexual desire supplements for women for the first time. Hey, we didn't say it was good news.

On Tuesday the Food and Drug Administration posted a recall that included two supplements marketed to improve women's sex drive that were found to contain flibanserin, the non-branded name of Addyi. Organic Herbal Supply issued the recall of its women-marketed supplements Zrect and LabidaMAX for containing flibanserin without declaring as much on the package. The company also recalled ten male sexual enhancement products with embarrassing names like Cummor and Bignhard. The products were sold on Amazon through February.

Addyi has been called the female Viagra even though it's meant to treat low sexual desire in women, totally unlike Viagra, which helps improve blood flow in already-turned-on men so they can get erections. It's an important distinction that makes the drug controversial because it doesn't seem to help women have satisfying sex all that much more often, so some wonder why it got approved in the first place, especially given the terrifying warning label that comes with it. Addyi comes with a black box warning that women taking it should consume zero alcohol—not a single drop.

That's because an alcohol-interaction study showed that taking the drug after drinking lead to fainting, dizziness, and low blood pressure. Those safety tests were done on 23 men and two women, so even men were experiencing those side effects, and women process alcohol differently; we really don't know how just how bad the interaction could be in women. (Flibanserin was initially developed as an antidepressant, which may explain the terrible gender bias in that alcohol-interaction study.)

So it's especially scary that women could have been buying these pills off Amazon without knowing that they contain a drug that interacts with alcohol. Supplements are not regulated by the FDA but the agency has long conducted random testing of male sexual enhancement pills for tadalafil, the non-brand name for Viagra, and have found dozens of violations. The FDA told STAT that it has been testing for flibanserin since the drug was approved in August 2015; they caught Organic Herbal Supply, which triggered the recall. Moral of the story: Don't buy knockoff boner pills.

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