Viagra for women? Drug developed as antidepressant effective in treating low libido

Nov 16, 2009
Viagra for women? Drug developed as antidepressant effective in treating low libido
This is John M. Thorp Jr., M.D., from the University of North Carolina School of Medicine. Credit: UNC-Chapel Hill School of Medicine

The drug flibanserin, which was originally created as an antidepressant, is effective in treating women with low libido, pooled results from three separate clinical trials have found.

These trials were the first ever to test a therapy that works at the level of the brain to enhance libido in women reporting low sexual desire, said John M. Thorp Jr., M.D., McAllister distinguished professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine and the principal investigator for North America in the studies.

"Flibanserin was a poor antidepressant," Thorp said. "However, astute observers noted that it increased libido in laboratory animals and human subjects. So, we conducted multiple and the women in our studies who took it for reported significant improvements in sexual desire and satisfactory sexual experiences.

"It's essentially a Viagra-like drug for women in that diminished desire or libido is the most common feminine sexual problem, like erectile dysfunction is in men," Thorp said.

Studies have shown that the prevalence of hypoactive sexual desire disorder in the U.S. ranges from 9 percent to 26 percent of women, depending on age and menopausal status. Flibanserin is currently an investigational drug and is available only to women taking part in clinical trials.

The results reported here were presented Monday, Nov. 16, at the Congress of the European Society for Sexual Medicine in Lyon, France. The presentation was given by Elaine E. Jolly, M.D., overall principal investigator and a professor at the University of Ottawa in Canada.

Jolly, Thorp and colleagues pooled data from four clinical trials of flibanserin conducted in the U.S., Canada and Europe. A total of 1,946 pre-menopausal women ages 18 and older were randomized to receive either flibanserin or placebo for 24 weeks, with 4 weeks of pre-treatment baseline measurement and 4 weeks of post-treatment follow-up.

Initially, four different dosing regimens were used in the trials: 25 milligrams twice a day, 50 milligrams once a day at bedtime, 50 milligrams twice a day and 100 milligrams once a day at bedtime. The dosing regimens totaling 50 milligrams a day were not effective while the regimens totaling 100 milligrams were. So, the results being reported are from only three of the four trials and are based on the 100 milligrams once a day dosing regimen only.

The trials measured mean changes from baseline on the following six variables as reported by the women each week: number of satisfactory sexual encounters (SSE), electronic diary (eDiary) desire score, female sexual function index (FSFI) desire domain score, FSFI total score, female sexual distress scale-revised (FSDR-R), and FSDR-R Item 13 (which focuses specifically on desire/libido).

The researchers concluded that treatment with 100 milligrams of flibanserin once a day was associated with significant improvements versus placebo in the number of satisfactory sexual encounters (SSE) reported, (as measured by eDiary and FSFI desire domain), a reduction in distress associated with sexual dysfunction (as measured by FSDS-R and its Item 13), and sexual functioning as measured by FSFI.

"These results point to a novel approach to pharmacologic treatment of the sexual problem that plagues reproductive age women the most, and may over time prove to be an effective treatment without the side effects of androgen replacement therapy, which is the only treatment currently available," Thorp said.

Source: University of North Carolina School of Medicine (news : web)

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3 / 5 (2) Nov 16, 2009
Now you just have to convince women to actually take it. The future is looking bright!
not rated yet Nov 16, 2009
I smell disease-mongering all over this, and a fabulous marketing opportunity for German drugmaker Boehringer, just in the nick of time.

Boehringer is poised to lose patent protection on two of its blockbuster drugs next year, facing a potentially catastrophic drop in sales revenue. What's a poor drugmaker to do? How about launching a ready made media darling of a drug like flibanserin - I can already imagine the snickering around the water cooler.

For a slightly different marketing perspective on this, read: "New 'Desire Drug' Claims that Sex Really IS In Her Head" on The Ethical Nag.

3 / 5 (2) Nov 17, 2009
Wile this is good news, and I should congratulate both women and men, I can't help feeling a bit alarmed.

In my view, female libido problems and male potence problems, both are the result of society as a whole slowly becoming uninhabitable. The right way to remedy this is not by increasingly feeding citizens libido pills, depression pills, sedatives and stimulants. The right way would be to start studying how society manifests itself to the individual (via media, social interaction, pressure from work and peers, etc.), and then finding out ways to make society hospitable for human beings.

If things go on at this rate for the next 20 years, and then the above mentioned drugs vanish overnight, then the Western society would seriously struggle to even survive.

Society seems prepared to external threats like ozone, carbon, meteorites and pandemics. But not to its own threats to its citizens.

2 / 5 (2) Nov 17, 2009
The right way would be to start studying how society manifests itself to the individual (via media, social interaction, pressure from work and peers, etc.), and then finding out ways to make society hospitable for human beings.

This doesnt sound anything like the America I know.

No. Its much more profitable to tell society its problems are not normal and that they need to take medication to have any hope of righting it. That way you can fork some of that profit over to the gov't (FDA) and have them stop allowing products like Cheerios and fruits from making claims to health benefits, thereby of course tightening your grip on the market share. When all the while of course, the medication you're selling creates horrible often much worse side effects. You can probably sell them some other drug to "fix" that!

Lets not forget, we'll allow outright poisons to be marketed so people can give themselves even more ailments for us to medicate.

Yeah. This is working out well, why change?

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