Bioethics Blogs

The Drug that Cried “Feminism”

Branded as “The Little Pink Pill” and “Female Viagra,” flibanserin, Sprout Pharmaceuticals’ only drug, was recently resubmitted to the Food and Drug Administration for approval for hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD), a questionable condition promoted by pharmaceutical companies to sell questionable drugs. Flibanserin, a failed-antidepressant-turned-libido-boosting-drug, has already been rejected twice by the FDA due to a lack of proven efficacy in the face of possible safety concerns.

Rather than putting this drug to sleep, Sprout attacked the FDA for, of all things, sexism. Sprout created a public relations campaign called “Even the Score” that has misled several consumer groups, congresswomen, and many reporters into believing that the FDA is willing to approve male, but not female, treatments for sexual dysfunction. After all, they approved Viagra, the little blue pill, so shouldn’t the little pink pill get approved as well?

Well no, actually. Prescription drug regulation is driven by safety and efficacy, not parity. Promoting a lower standard of efficacy and safety in drugs for women is not feminist. Nor is drawing comparisons to unrelated drugs.

That Viagra comparison, for example. “The little blue pill” does not affect libido. Viagra and similar medications treat physical sexual dysfunction caused by arterial disease, diabetes, or other blood flow disorders. These drugs enable men who are already aroused, but who have a physical limitation, to have sex. Flibanserin isn’t female Viagra. The closest thing to female Viagra is a personal lubricant, which treats a common cause of physical sexual dysfunction, is used before sex, can be used at any age, and eases the way when the spirit is willing but the flesh isn’t cooperating.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.