Posted: 11/24/2015

The Little Pink Pill: Viagra for Women?

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While medications like Viagra and Levitra have long been used to treat sexual dysfunction in men, there has never been an FDA-approved medication prescribed to treat low sexual desire in women—until this past October. Flibanserin, which is sold under the brand name Addyi and often called “the little pink pill”, first hit pharmacy shelves on October 16th.

Addyi can be prescribed to treat hypoactive sexual desire disorder—an unexplained loss of interest in sex—in premenopausal women. Unlike Viagra and other erectile dysfunction drugs, which work by increasing blood flow to the penis when a man is sexually stimulated, Addyi alters the levels of three neurotransmitters that affect sexual desire. Thus, Addyi cannot be characterized simply as the Viagra for women.

About 11,000 women have participated in clinical trials for Addyi so far, and the studies have shown that women who took the medication had 0.5-1.0 more sexually satisfying events per month than those who took a placebo. However, the studies also revealed that Addyi can cause side effects in some women—lightheadedness and grogginess in the morning were two of the most commonly reported ones. Doctors are advising patients not to drink alcohol while taking Addyi, since alcohol can make some side effects worse. The drug’s manufacturer, meanwhile, has agreed to conduct additional studies into Addyi’s efficacy and safety.

Although there is a possibility of side effects, some women who experience a lack of sexual desire may find that the little pink pill’s benefits outweigh its risks. Proponents of the drug are celebrating the fact that after years of pharmaceutical companies marketing erectile dysfunction medications for men, there is finally a medication available to address low libido and increase sexual satisfaction in women. Some doctors are hoping that the introduction of Addyi opens the gates for more pharmaceutical treatments for sexual dysfunction in women.

Because Addyi is a new medication and retail prices vary by pharmacy, accurate cost estimates are not yet available. However, Sprout Pharmaceutical, the drug’s manufacturer, is hoping that many insurance companies will provide coverage comparable to what they provide for Viagra and other erectile dysfunction drugs. Cynthia Whitehead, the company’s CEO, estimates that with insurance coverage factored in, women will pay between $30 and $75 per month for Addyi. In the future, patient assistance programs and drug coupons may also be available to offset the out-of-pocket cost of this medication.

By HelpRx Staff Writer

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About the HelpRx.info Blog

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