Saturday, June 12, 2010

Making Female Lack of Sexual Desire a Disease, for Fun and Profit

This post is to recommend to readers of this blog that they check out the New View Campaign,

The focus of this effort is Boehringer-Ingelheim's new "female viagra" drug, Flibanserin, which is to be discussed by an FDA advisory committee on June 18. A petition asking that committee not to approve the drug is being circulated and New View will be testifying as a lay group against approval.

I apologize for not being able to follow this particular debate as closely as I would have wished in recent weeks. The major points stressed by New View are:
  • Flibanserin was discovered accidentally as part of a search for new antidepressants. It is said to work by modifying several neurotransmitters. So far, drugs that alter neurotransmitter chemistry have been frequently shown to cause severe adverse effects, many of which were not evident in the initial approval trials.
  • B-I is taking full advantage of the FDA rules that to be approved, a drug has to be shown to be better than placebo in a few trials, and that is all. The actual amount of improvement shown by subjects in the trials B-I is submitting to the FDA is marginal at best.
  • The larger societal issue is the medicalization of female sexual desire and the idea that if a women has low sexual desire, it must be because her brain chemistry is whacked out; it cannot be because she's stressed out of her mind or her boyfriend never bathes or any of the various environmental causes of low sexual desire. According to New View, the marketing campaign that B-I has launched for its new drug pushes all these buttons.


Michael Kirsch, M.D. said...

Howard, by your own admission, this post is one side of the story. As far as the medicalization of America, why stop here. It's an epidemic.

Joseph P. Arpaia, MD said...


Not sure about your point. Are you saying Howard shouldn't have brought this up? Are you saying that female HSDD is really a medical issue?

Just trying to figure out your post.

Michael Kirsch, M.D. said...

No Joe, I think the subject is blogworthy, but Howard gave us essentially New View's view, which is hostile to approving the drug. I felt there was more to the story here and would have liked to have seen an informed counter view. I think it's more effective to disarm the opposing view than to ignore it.

Joseph P. Arpaia, MD said...

Thanks Michael,

I agree with you that having an understanding of both sides is very helpful.

Tongue in cheek here. Isn't there already a very effective and legal pharmaceutical for female HSDD, i.e. alcohol.