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Addyi (flibanserin) is the new libido-enhancing drug for premenopausal women. Low desire is a problem of  “wanting to want to have sex.” It’s not uncommon for women.  Addyi is being billed as the new “Viagra for women.”

 

The why of Addyi is two-fold- the first reason is to help women with low libido, the second is to make buckets of money with a pharmaceutical blockbuster. 2014 U.S. sales of Viagra were $1.6 billion, so that’s the type of potential sex improving drugs have.

 

Unlike Viagra, which is taken an hour before one wants to have an erection, Addyi is taken every day. The way Addyi works is a bit of a mystery- it was created as an anti-depressant which didn’t work out, but the libido enhancing side effects some testers reported were taken up as the drugs raison d’être. Addyi is thought to work by down regulating serotonin and thereby up regulating dopamine and nor epinephrine. Isn’t interesting that a drug can come out and the makers aren’t sure how it works?

 

Originally the FDA didn’t approve Addyi due to the meager levels of improvement and concern about side effects (severely low blood pressure & loss of consciousness which are both increased by taking Addyi with alcohol or certain medicines), but after the makers conducted more trials with improved results the FDA gave the thumbs up

 

According to the new trials between 7 and 13 percent of participants saw improvement beyond the “placebo effect” and the improvement averaged one more satisfying sexual event per month. Some lucky women added one more satisfying sexual event per week.

 

I speculate that focusing attention on their sexuality on a daily basis helped boost the subject’s sexual desire. I know from working at Babeland that attention to sexuality can increase libido. I also think that all the long standing sex positive methods- dedicate time to self exploration, improve partner communication, do body centered activities, start fooling around and see where it goes, or sex therapy should be the first things to try for low desire.

 

A company funded lobbying group that urged approval of the drug- Even the Score- argued that women are being discriminated against by not having a sex drug of their own like men. I believe this is more of a “medicalization” of sexuality issue. Where problems that likely stem from whole life reasons- stress, disconnected relationships, depression, or even typical variations in hormone levels and desire are pathologized.

 

Addyi is really expensive- out of pocket it comes close to $1000/mo but there is a program from the manufacturer that subsidizes the first months so people can try it out. After that, god hope you have insurance to cover it because $1000 is a lot to pay for one more sexual encounter a month. It seems so to me anyway.

 

Back to the two whys of Addyi- in terms of increasing desire for low libido premenopausal women- for 10% of folks it seems to have some effect, but at a price in both $ and side effects.

 

And as for the second goal- making buckets of money for the company? The owners of Sprout pharmaceuticals, the maker of Addyi for Addyi, sold for $1,000,000,000 ($1billion) immediately after the drug was approved. Now that’s a happy ending.

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