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Female Sex Health Dialogue Continues

Dec 15, 2014

Female Sex Health Dialogue ContinuesThe drug flibanserin, sometimes called “pink Viagra,” has been in the news quite a bit these days, but not without controversy.

Promoted by Sprout Pharmaceuticals, flibanserin is designed to treat women with hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD). This condition is marked by a persistent lack of sexual interest, to the point that causes women distress.

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Flibanserin continues to spark discussion, even controversy...
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The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved flibanserin. In October, however, the agency held a public meeting to discuss female sexual dysfunction and its treatment.

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The situation has prompted campaigns to bring awareness to female sexual dysfunction in general and HSDD in particular. These include www.eventhescore.org and www.womendeserve.org. Such groups point out that while numerous sexual health medications have been approved for men, none have been approved for women.

The campaigns are not without their critics. Last month, sexologists Ellen Laan of the University of Amsterdam and Kinsey Institute and Leonore Tiefer of the New York University School of Medicine wrote in the Los Angeles Times, “We were horrified by the campaigns’ use and abuse of the language of equality to pressure the FDA to approve a potential billion-dollar blockbuster ‘pink Viagra.’”

Laan and Leonore explain that the campaigns’ use of “26-0” to represent 26 male treatments vs. 0 for women is misleading. The 26 male treatments, they say, includes several versions of similar drugs, some of which contain testosterone, a hormone that has come under scrutiny in treatments for men because of safety concerns.

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The authors also take issue with the biological component of female sexual desire and note that typically, lack of desire may be better explained as “a difference in desire between two partners.”

Dr. Stephen Snyder of the Mount Sinai School of Medicine shared his view in Psychology Today. While Laan and Tiefer made some valid points, he says, there are other points he takes issue with.

For example, he stated that explaining sexual dysfunction in an environmental context is “an over-simplification.”

“…Let’s drop the either/or thinking,” he added. “If the FDA approves flibanserin for women, then we’ll get a chance to see if it works in the real world – and for whom. Until then, let’s not pretend that we know more than we do about what causes sexual problems. We still have a lot to learn.”


Print this article or view it as a PDF file here: Female Sex Health Dialogue Continues


Resources

Los Angeles Times

Laan, Ellen and Leonore Tiefer

“The sham drug idea of the year: 'pink Viagra'”

(November 13, 2014)

http://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-laan-tiefer-pink-viagra-20141114-story.html

Psychology Today

Snyder, Stephen, MD

“Pink Viagra: Sex for Pleasure, for Profit, or Both?”

(November 24, 2014)

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/sexualitytoday/201411/pink-viagra-sex-pleasure-profit-or-both