Holy Hormones Honey: While many of us have been focusing on vaccines, Ebola, Enterovirus 68 there is another camp that is vocally protesting the use of a ‘thrice-failed’ antidepressant to win approval by the government to pass as the ‘first-ever drug to treat sexual dysfunction in women’. Author Ray Moynihan is questioning a campaign to get a ‘rejected’ drug licensed.
When I looked for an image of the drug in question – flibanserin – I found the advertisement above (1st image). It eerily reminded me of an advertising campaign designed to belittle women – back in the 50’s when Lysol was marketed for vaginal odor (2nd image).
Does something seem strange about all of this? Lysol – the great household cleaner was marketed as a fem care product. Instead of trashing the ‘rejected’ drug flibanserin (and losing all of the money invested in the development) – the manufacturers decided to come up with another use – a sex drug. Hell, the first-ever sex drug will probably bring in more revenue anyway. What is wrong with this picture?
Both ads are demeaning and as Mr. Moynihan points out – is the push for the new sex drug really a feminist campaign using all of the right words and phrases or is it really a marketing masquerade? There needs to be a lot of controversy over this.
Most of you who follow this blog understand that most sex dysfunction (male and female) is due to hormone imbalance and nutrient deficiency. Period. It is time to stop the deception – it is time to stop the blatant sexist advertising about women’s health.
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Evening the score on sex drugs: feminist movement or marketing masquerade?
Too Much Medicine
BMJ 2014; 349 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.g6246 (Published 17 October 2014) Cite this as: BMJ 2014;349:g6246
- Ray Moynihan, senior research fellow, Bond University, Robina,Australia
A thrice failed antidepressant is at the centre of a new marketing campaign to win approval for what could become the world’s first blockbuster sex pill for women. Frustrated by the drug’s repeated rejection, proponents have orchestrated a fierce attack, accusing the regulator of unfairness, and enlisting support from several well connected women’s organisations in the US. Critics counter that the campaign is exceedingly misleading, that it targets a desire disorder that does not exist, and that approval could see widespread overprescribing of a drug with marginal benefits and real safety concerns.
A few months ago a website called Even the Score emerged, (www.eventhescore.org) attacking the United States Food and Drug Administration with the claim, “Men outscore women 26 to 0 when it comes to FDA approved treatments marketed for Sexual Dysfunction.” The argument is that men have sildenafil and a host of other drugs, but women have none. And according to Even the Score’s website, 43% of women experience sexual dysfunction.
The campaign uses the broad feminist language of rights, choice, and sex equality, but it has a narrow focus as well: it calls on the FDA to act for women “by approving the first-ever drug to treat the most common form of women’s sexual dysfunction.” Without using the drug’s name, it’s a demand for the regulator to approve the thrice failed antidepressant flibanserin, currently being pushed for hypoactive sexual desire disorder— a now obsolescent diagnosis—by new drug company Sprout, a key sponsor of the campaign. Sprout is run by a group of experienced pharmaceutical and investment specialists who reportedly bought flibanserin in 2011 and, according to the business press, have raised tens of millions of dollars from private investors with the hope of delivering a new “global brand.”1
The Even the Score website is light on detail about who initiated the campaign and who’s running it, stating simply that it “was created” as a voice for American women who wanted to level the playing field around sexual dysfunction treatments. But according to the woman chairing the campaign, Susan Scanlan, Sprout Pharmaceuticals was central to its genesis. She was approached by Sprout over a year ago, before the most recent FDA rejection of flibanserin in 2013. “They were trying to educate,” she told The BMJ.
Scanlan was long time chair of the National Council of Women’s Organisations, a network of over 200 US organisations. “I’ve spent my life looking at inequities, including in women’s health,” she said, so the approach from Sprout “spurred quite a bit of interest.” After looking into it and consulting with trusted colleagues she decided to chair the campaign. “I sincerely believe, based on fairness, women are not getting a fair shake.”