Female sex pill flops with U.S. advisers

Fri Jun 18, 2010 7:07pm EDT
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By Lisa Richwine

GAITHERSBURG, Maryland (Reuters) - A pink sex pill offered little help to women and came with unacceptable risks, U.S. government advisers agreed on Friday, another setback in the search for a drug to boost female libido.

German drugmaker Boehringer Ingelheim failed to convince an expert panel that its pill increased sexual desire enough to win approval.

"The efficacy was not sufficiently robust to justify the risks," said Dr. Julia Johnson, the panel's chairwoman and head of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.

Women reported depression, fainting, fatigue and other problems in company studies of the drug known chemically as flibanserin.

The once-a-day pill, taken at bedtime, is the latest attempt to find a female counterpart to Pfizer Inc's Viagra, the blockbuster blue pill for men.

Drugmakers have been searching for a medicine to improve women's sex lives since Viagra successfully debuted 12 years ago. The market for a "pink Viagra" could stretch into the billions of dollars.

But some doctors and advocates worry that pharmaceutical companies are playing on women's insecurities to convince them they need a pill to improve their sex lives.

"Low sexual desire is not a disease," said Leonore Tiefer, a clinical associate professor of psychiatry at New York University, reading to the advisers from a petition opposing approval of flibanserin.   Continued...

<p>Western tourists kiss during sunset near Kuta beach on the Indonesian resort island of Bali in this May 28, 2005 file photo. REUTERS/Darren Whiteside</p>