The People's Perspective on Medicine

FDA Approved New Drug to Increase Sexual Desire

FDA gave the green light to Amag for its injectable medication designed to increase sexual desire in premenopausal women.

A lot of medications can interfere with libido, but relatively few increase sexual desire, especially in women. Four years ago (on August 18, 2015), the Food and Drug Administration approved a pill called flibanserin (Addyi) to treat hypoactive sexual desire disorder in premenopausal women. The FDA restricted distribution of this medicine, so only certified health practitioners and pharmacies could provide it to patients.

A New Medicine to Increase Sexual Desire in Women:

The drug company Amag has recently received approval from the Food and Drug Administration to market its new drug to treat hypoactive sexual desire disorder or HSDD in premenopausal women. The medication (bremelanotide) will be sold under the name Vyleesi. It is not a pill, however. Vyleesi will come as an autoinjector to be administered subcutaneously in the thigh or abdomen about 45 minutes prior to sexual intimacy. It is supposed to increase a woman’s sex drive. Despite the fact that postmenopausal women frequently complain of a lack of libido, Vyleesi is not indicated for them. Women must not use Vyleesi if they are pregnant; in animals, the drug can cause birth defects.

Side Effects of Vyleesi:

Vyleesi has some notable downsides. Forty percent of the women who participated in the clinical trials experienced nausea. That isn’t likely to improve the romantic mood. The drug can also increase blood pressure and slow heart rate. In addition, about one percent of women reported darkening of the skin, particularly on the face, gums and breasts. This darkening might be persistent. Besides these reactions, many women reported headache, flushing, cough, fatigue, dizziness and nasal congestion. A few women experienced runny nose, joint or muscle pain, restless leg syndrome or stomachache.

How Well Did Vyleesi Work to Increase Sexual Desire?

While some women taking Vyleesi did report enhanced sexual desire, they did not have more sexually satisfying events than women taking placebo. The kit will be expensive. Reuters reports that the list price could be as high as $899.

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies. .
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