Is female sexual dysfunction a medical condition? Drug companies have sure been trying to make you think so, says researcher and journalist Ray Moynihan in his new book, “Sex, Lies and Pharmaceuticals.” Moynihan lambastes drug-industry-financed patient advocacy groups, medical associations and “key opinion leaders” for a global marketing strategy aimed at convincing doctors and regulators that female sexual dysfunction was a medical condition in need of a pharmaceutical treatment.
Female sexual dysfunction – which is claimed to affect up to two thirds of women – is a disorder invented by the pharmaceutical industry to build global markets for drugs to treat it, it is claimed today. Drug companies have invested millions in the search for a female equivalent of Viagra, so far without success. But while doing so they have stoked demand by creating a buzz around the disorder they have created, according to Ray Moynihan, a lecturer at the University of Newcastle in Australia.
You may think there is enough disease in the world already, and that no one would want to add to the diseases that we humans must deal with. But there is a powerful industry in our society that is working overtime to invent illnesses and to convince us we are suffering from them. This effort is known as “disease mongering,” a term introduced by health-science writer Lynn Payer in her 1992 book Disease-Mongers: How Doctors, Drug Companies, and Insurers Are Making You Feel Sick.
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 drug trials’ principal investigators, the former antidepressant 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.