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“Female Viagra” Backed By FDA, Critics Raise Questions

“Female Viagra” Backed By FDA, Critics Raise Questions
Viagra Allen Watkin / Flickr CC BY-SA 2.0

Health

“Female Viagra” Backed By FDA, Critics Raise Questions

A new drug, unofficially called the “female Viagra,” designed to increase a woman’s sexual desire, is being backed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The move came after a vote count of 18 to 6, and will be backed by the organization as long as the safety risks of the pill, called flibanserin, are kept in check by the manufacturer; the measures would include providing training to medical professionals before allowing them to prescribe the pill, and having women consuming the drug sign an agreement saying they won’t be using birth control or alcohol while on the new pill.

Flibanserin works by increasing a woman’s psychological desire for sex, in contrast to Viagra that induces erection in men by channeling the blood flow in that area. Flibanserin, taken daily, will affect the levels of certain chemicals in a female’s brain, thereby enhancing her desire.

According to Business Insider, Bat Sheva Marcus, a sexual dysfunction specialist at the Medical Center for Female Sexuality in New York, told Business Insider, “It’s beyond ridiculous that this is being called ‘female’ Viagra. This isn’t about blood flow. It’s got nothing to do with blood flow.”

The drug was rejected by the FDA in 2010. According to The Guardian, the drug changed hands in 2011, going from its former developer Boehringer Ingelheim to Sprout pharmaceutical company. However, when submitted to FDA for its approval in 2013, it faced another rejection.

According to The Huffington Post, side effects such as fatigue, low blood pressure and fainting have been experienced by women who took the pill.

While the FDA experts recognize that the results of consuming flibanserin may not be very effective, a need for drugs to address female sexual issues has been noticed.

Dr. Julia Heiman of the Kinsey Institute at Indiana University, said, “These are very modest results. But on the other hand, even modest results can make a lot of difference when you’re at a certain point in the clinical problem.”

According to New York Times, the results of clinical trials for flibanserin haven’t been as impressive. Before women who participated in the test began taking the pills, they were experiencing two to three “sexually satisfying events” per month. Upon the consumption of the drug, however, these events increased by only one per month than for women in the trial who got the placebo.

A lot of questions were raised with the introduction of the drug. Critics are debating whether low sex drive is in fact a real medical condition, or something invented by Big Pharma.

Dr. Adriane J. Fugh-Berman, director of the PharmedOut project at Georgetown University, said that flibanserin was “a mediocre aphrodisiac with scary side effects.”

According to Vox, she said, “Marketing won over science today.

“The FDA presented a very good scientific case against the drug,” Fugh-Berman said. “But the panel was convinced by the many women who had been brought there by Sprout to talk about the tragedy of their low libido, and how it was threatening their marriages. Several of them cried.”

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About Shaurya Arya

Shaurya covers wide range of genres. He is in the know about the day-to-day happenings in the US. He covers politics, environment, lifestyle and sports. Follow him to know the latest development in the US Presidential Election, rescue operations during tornadoes and other calamities or simply whether those viral videos and memes are true or hoax. With a Masters in Journalism, he has a bright future ahead in the field of writing and reporting.

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