5 Reasons to Be Skeptical of the New "Female Viagra"

The Food and Drug Administration just approved the first-ever drug designed to boost a woman's libido. There's just one problem: the drug, flibanserin, doesn't actually work that well. Full story: http://bit.ly/1hLo5rF
  1. 1.
    The drug doesn't appear to help most women
    According to an FDA analysis of flibanserin, between 8 and 13 percent of women who take the drug will see some improvement over placebo. That's a pretty small number, particularly when you consider how "improvement" has been defined. Specifically, women who take the flibanserin pill have, on average, 0.5 more "sexually satisfying events" per month. While this is greater than those taking a placebo comparison pill with no active drug in it, that's a pretty negligible difference.
  2. 2.
    The drug has scary side effects
    No drug is without side effects. But every medicine is a balance of risks and benefits. And as Walid Fouad Gellad, an internist in Pittsburgh who has written about flibanserin in JAMA, noted, given the fact that flibanserin doesn't seem to do all that much to alter women's sex drives, there's a big question about whether its side effects are worth the risk. Research to date shows side effects include drowsiness, dizziness and fainting, which increased the risk of injuries such as concussions.
  3. 3.
    Doctors worry about interactions with alcohol and hormonal contraceptives
    The FDA's workaround for some of these side effects has been that women take the drug at bedtime and it will only be available through certified health care professionals and pharmacies. Doctors will need to asses the ability of patients to abstain from drinking. How this actually plays out in the real world is another question. The drug may also be "off label" or prescribed in ways that are different from how it's been approved.
  4. 4.
    The campaign behind the drug is misleading
    The main objective of the drugmaker's "Even the Score" campaign is to level the playing field when it comes to sexual dysfunction drugs for men and women. "There are 26 FDA approved drugs to treat various sexual dysfunctions for men," the campaign's site reads, "but still not a single one for women's most common sexual complaint." The pills available to men mostly deal with mechanical problems, like erectile dysfunction or low testosterone — not flibanserin's elusive goal of boosting sex drive.
  5. 5.
    It's been called a "textbook case of disease-mongering by Big Pharma
    Critics have accused the pharmaceutical industry of inventing the medical condition (hypoactive sexual desire disorder) that the drug is designed to treat.