Since August 18, headlines have proclaimed the news about the approval of the so-called "female Viagra," Addyi™ . The approval sparked enthusiastic responses from advocates and opponents, which will no doubt continue.
The advocates will continue, sharing their belief that the approval is a triumph for many researchers -- and patients. Female sexual health care professionals, like Dr. Kenneth Paul Rosenberg, will continue to be enthusiastic that they have Addyi as a tool in their arsenal of potential treatments for the patients.
The opponents will insist that flibanserin is a proverbial "tough pill to swallow," citing limited efficacy for a limited population. They will go on to say that the approval of flibanserin represents both a new "hysteria" and a new "restless leg syndrome" -- a disease created because there is a profit in curing it, and another way for experts to tell women their sexuality isn't OK. They will comment about the interaction of Addyi and alcohol as well as what many consider an imbalance between the benefits of Addyi and the side effects.
And as a vagipreneur, a person in the business of female sexual health, I am hugely supportive of the conversation on both sides. A lively debate advances the cause for women and their partners. And with the $1B purchase of Sprout, the makers of Addyi just 2 days after its approval, companies will continue their investment in solutions. Good all around.
But what really concerns me is what hasn't changed -- the systemic discomfort about female sexuality. Two years ago, the New York Times Magazine, had a cover story discussing research in female sexuality. Central to the article was the odd contradiction that in the case of female sexual solutions, too much efficacy was problematic. "Over the last decade, there has been fretting within the drug industry, what if, in trials, a medicine proved too effective... that the FDA would reject an application out of concern that a chemical would lead to female excesses, crazed binges of infidelity." Apparently, improved arousal or desire cause women to lose their minds. I was hopeful that that article reflected old news, and that this new world, a world with Addyi, has to have advanced. So imagine my disappointment when I started to see the same old -- not years ago, days and weeks ago. Margaret Redelman, a well-respected therapist, succinctly gave voice to the not so subtle concerns that a "discomfort about female sexuality underlies some of the ...resistance to use anything that will alleviate women's sexual difficulty."
Says Redelman, "This drug will not make women lose their discretion. It won't make them unmanageably libidinous." I don't know which is more absurd -- concern about "crazed binges of infidelity" or a woman who is "unmanageably libidinous." Quick, run inside, lock your doors. There are women on the loose.
Think about the millions upon millions of dollars spent on advertising behind the erectile dysfunction and the billions of dollars of products sold. Is there widespread panic in the streets that men around the world are wielding 4 hour erections? Have our streets become "unmanageably libidinous" for the last 17 years (since the approval of Viagra) as men everywhere lose their discretion? If so, I have not seen the coverage of the fear and hysteria.
So are the times really a changing? I sure hope so. But from my "unmanageably libidinous" perspective, who knows if I can even think clearly.