Bioethics Blogs

Marketing Trumps Science, or How the Pink Pill Does Not Even the Score

This month’s blog is going to be a bit of a rant. I don’t
generally consider myself a rant-y person, but some of the commentary
surrounding the recent
FDA
approval
of the sexual desire disorder drug Addyi has proven too much for
my delicate constitution.

First, what I am NOT doing: I am NOT denying the existence
of hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD), or that for women who are so
afflicted it can cause serious distress or otherwise negative consequences. I
am NOT challenging the notion that HSDD is a medical problem that warrants seeking
a medical treatment or medical solution. I am NOT arguing against
pharmaceuticals in general, or here specifically, as a potentially viable
medical treatment for HSDD. I am NOT saying all pharmaceuticals should have
absolutely no risks or side effects, or should be required to produce overly
substantial benefits for it to be appropriate for them to be FDA-approved and
released to the market. I am NOT calling into question the claims that there
are very real sex and gender disparities in medicine, human medicalization, and
medical treatment. And I am NOT disputing the value of empowering women with
greater control over their own bodies and their own healthcare.

So what AM I doing? I’m questioning the approval and
impending market release of this specific drug, Addyi, based on its known
and unknown risks and benefits
both from a medical perspective and from a
feminist perspective. A few of my concerns:

Is it counter-intuitive to have a drug aimed at increasing
female libido that is shown to have increased side effects when a woman is also
taking hormonal birth control?

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.