New “Female-Viagra” Gets Clam Jammed

By Jillian Gilchrest, Age 33

Looks like the “female Viagra”, Addyi, isn’t as titillating as some assumed it would be. In particular Valiant Pharmaceuticals International, the company that acquired the makers of the pill for about $1 billion just days after the FDA approved the drug. Only 227 prescriptions have been written for Addyi, nationwide, in the first month of salesTo put that in context, when Viagra first debuted for men in 1998, close to 600,000 prescriptions got filled in that same time period. Why such poor performance for Addyi?! 

Well, first of all, Addyi isn’t really “female Viagra.” Apparently, it can only be used by pre-menopausal women, you know, women in their 20’s & 30’s, even though sexual dysfunction is reported at greater rates in women of advanced age. And, unlike Viagra, you can’t just take a pill and get aroused. Addyi works like an antidepressant, targeting neurotransmitters that communicate information throughout the mind and body and only becomes effective after taking it over time. So, Addyi is actually nothing like Viagra. It doesn’t actually enhance performance; it aims to alter chemicals in the brain. Oh, and apparently, it doesn’t even do that well. In clinical trials Addyi only offered meaningful help for just about 10% more patients than a placebo.

In just my small googling I came to find out that quite a bit of lobbying went into the FDA approval behind Addyi. In fact, the major proponents of this “treatment for women’s sexual dysfunction” formed an advocacy coalition called ‘Even the Score’. They argued that the time had come for women to achieve sexual health equity and that Addyi was the way to do it. Hmmm. There are a lot of things that come to my mind when I think of sexual health equity, and Addyi is not one of them.

I am not at all surprised that Addyi hasn’t achieved women’s sexual health equity or that the bogus “empowerment marketing” used to push this drug is coming up dry (I can’t help myself). I am pleasantly surprised, however, that pharmaceutical companies aren’t making the millions of dollars they expected and that women haven’t risked their health (side effects are horrifying) and wallets on a drug that does nothing to actually improve sexual intimacy and arousal. The next time someone seeks to increase female sexual desire, they might want to solicit feedback from women…instead of using drugs to get what they want.

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Young Women Rising encourages Connecticut women ages 18-35 to raise their voices about issues they care about. Each writer speaks for herself as an individual and Young Women Rising as a whole does not intend to endorse the views of any particular writer. If you’re interested in submitting a guest piece please contact us at Michelle.Noehren@cga.ct.gov.

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