'Female Viagra': The Scary Truth About the Newly Approved Libido Pill

blisters of pills being handed to a patientIf women weren't so sure about how the FDA felt about them, yesterday's decision about flibanserin, a drug produced by Sprout Pharmaceuticals and referred to as "the female Viagra," should make it perfectly clear. After turning it down twice before, the FDA has voted to approve the drug, meant to enhance women's libido, even though research shows it has limited benefits and lots of possible negative side effects.

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It looks like the third time pushing the drug was the charm for Sprout. Although versions of the pill were submitted for approval in the past, the FDA rejected it for lack of effectiveness and side effects like nausea, dizziness, and fainting. Even now that it has been approved, the FDA has put major restrictions and warnings all over the drug.

Marketed as Addyi, the drug's label will have a boxed warning — the strongest kind, according to the New York Times — saying the drug should not be used by those who drink alcohol, since that can increase the risk of severely low blood pressure and fainting. It is also not to be used with certain other drugs and by people with liver impairment. Women will be advised to stop using the drug if they see no effect after eight weeks.

Grrreat. How sad is it that we can already see a class action lawsuit coming down the pike a year or two from now?

More from The Stir: 6 Reasons 'Female Viagra' Isn't Worth All the Excitement

Women are already up against an onslaught of marketing and dangerously false or utterly lacking information about hormonal birth control options, which can lead to heightened risk of breast cancer and glaucoma, life-threatening blood clots, brain changes, gallstones, lagging sexual desire due to hormones that are bound up for years after you stop the pill ... But hey, no worries, now, you can just take another drug for THAT!

Those who stand to benefit the most from Addyi argued that its approval was a feminist issue. Women "whose loss of sexual desire causes marked distress or interpersonal difficulty and is not the result of illness, relationship problems or side effects of other medicines" deserve an option to treat their libido issues, too, they cried!

Except the approval of this drug fails to recognize that the reason a woman may not feel like having sex is pretty much always the result of one of those problems or a bunch of complicated others -- like hormonal imbalance, diet/lifestyle, body dysmorphia, deep-rooted, psychological scars, etc. NOT some nebulous, mysterious root cause a magic bullet pill is going to be able to target by (ineffectively) tweaking neurotransmitters.

At the very least, this drug is a complete disservice for women's wellness in that it's a distraction from addressing the real, very complicated, multilayered causes of low female libido. At the most, it's a complete slap in our faces.

 

Image via Kwangmoozaa/iStock

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