Globe and Mail
November 18, 2009
A German pharmaceutical company is touting one of its failed antidepressants as a libido-boosting drug for women.
Flibanserin can increase sexual desire in women suffering from “hypoactive sexual desire disorder,” according to three clinical trials funded by the company, Boehringer Ingelheim. The results were presented yesterday at the Congress of the European Society for Sexual Medicine in Lyon, France.
The disorder is a branch of “female sexual dysfunction,” a widely debated term that involves everything from an inability to reach orgasm to a lack of desire.
Described as a “Viagra-like drug for women” by one of the trials’ principal investigators, flibanserin is prompting an outcry from critics who say female sexual dysfunction is a disorder the pharmaceutical industry has conjured as an attempt to capitalize on women’s complex sexuality.
In two North American trials, the company surveyed 1,378 women with hypoactive sexual desire disorder. Another trial was conducted in Europe.
According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, a reference guide for the medical profession, the condition is accompanied by a persistent absence of sexual fantasies or desire for any form of sexual activity. The disorder is marked by distress and difficulties in a relationship.