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FDA Considering "Lady Viagra"

Next month the FDA will decide whether or not to endorse a pill called flibanserin (yeah, that name has got to go) which purports to boost women's sex lives. The drug, made by German pharma company Boehringer Ingelheim, sparks "a woman's sexual desire by fiddling with her brain chemicals." Which isn't, unfortunately, the laymen's explanation.

Per the Washington Post,

Exactly how the drug works is unclear, but it appears to decrease levels of one brain chemical, serotonin, while boosting levels of two others: dopamine and norepinephrine.

Ever since Viagra came out, scientists have been looking for a lady-version. But none have really worked, "making it clear that a woman's sexuality is more complicated than a man's." Researchers hope that this one -- which they discovered perked up lazy libidos as they tested it (unsuccessfully) as an anti-depression drug -- may succeed where others have failed, tapping into an estimated $2 billion market in the U.S. alone. Not too shabby. No wonder big pharma wants the win on this one.

In the studies,

A 100-milligram daily dosage increased the number of satisfying sexual experiences that women had reported from the previous month -- a key benchmark the FDA has set for such drugs -- from an average of 2.7 to 4.5, compared with 3.7 among those taking a placebo.

You heard that right. 4.5 satisfying sexual experiences a month. So the bar is low. It's interesting that the placebo had an impact as well, which just goes to show how complicated we really are.

Of course, because society likes to complicate things even further, everyone is in an uproar about what this medication might do:

"Is this going to make women desire an abusive partner?" asked Liz Canner, a documentary filmmaker. "Is it going to make us desire every guy who walks by?"

"Is it really a problem, or is it the societal message of what they're supposed to be experiencing, or pressure from a partner, or changes in themselves?" asked Susan Bennett, an assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School.

"Women's desire for sexual emancipation is very worthy," said Leonore Tiefer, a clinical associate professor of psychiatry at the New York University School of Medicine. "I fear that it's being hijacked by a profit-oriented industry that doesn't really try to understand women and their sexuality."

Do we sometimes just talk too much?

Yes. But that's our perogative. And, yes, sexuality is complicated, and particularly so for women -- which means in many cases a sex-pill may be a Band-Aid sort of solution, if it's a solution at all. But who are we to begrudge someone an additional 1.8 experiences of satisfying sex, even there are Band-Aids involved?

It bears mentioning that women have been taking hormones that influence their sexuality for years (50, in fact) in the form of birth control pills. However, the pill tends, if anything, to lower sex drive along with it's not-getting-you-knocked-up prowess ... making it more palatable somehow?

Meanwhile, science is still hard at work on a male birth control pill, but the Viagra is free-flowing, and I'm pretty sure no one save a couple of "retrosexuals" in trilby hats are worried about male sexuality being hijacked.


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