If you haven’t yet heard of Addyi, the controversial new drug that’s supposed to boost female libido, you’re not alone. Unlike with Viagra, which sold like erections were a finite resource when it debuted in 1998, no one’s been rushing pharmacies to get their hands on the little pink pill. Since its release in October, only 227 prescriptions have been recorded for the libido-enhancer.

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Bloomberg reports that Addyi, which was hotly debated even before it hit the marketplace, isn’t making a big splash because of a variety of unpleasant factors. Addyi, for instance, costs about the same per pill as Viagra ($42), but it can’t just be taken before sexual intercourse. Instead, it must be taken daily for it to build up in the system, inflating its cost to about $780 a month.

Additionally, according to Bloomberg, doctors can’t even begin prescribing the drug until they’re certified to—meaning that no one’s even telling women it exists. Only about 5,600 physicians (that’s one percent of American OB/GYNs) have gone online to take the 10-minute certification course and then fax in their certification. It’s as if the FDA is doing everything it can to make sure this drug never sees the inside of a medicine cabinet, and it may actually be doing so: the administration rejected the sale of the drug twice before allowing it on the market with the certification requirement.

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Here’s some explanation as to why the FDA, clinicians, and consumers are skeptical of Addyi:

The pill offers meaningful help for only about 10 percent more patients than a placebo, and it comes with a risk of serious side effects, including severely low blood pressure and fainting. To minimize these potential problems, women are supposed to refrain from alcohol while taking the daily pill.

In other words, women are supposed to restrict themselves from a casual drink the entire time they’re taking it, which could be indefinite. What’s even the point of being an adult if you can’t have the occasional six-pack of kombucha once in a while? Plus, we may not even know how much alcohol can safely be drunk by pill-takers, because Addyi’s safety trials were mainly performed on men.

And then there’s this, from Bloomberg:

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Addyi is approved for premenopausal women with hypoactive sexual-desire disorder, so a patient’s low libido must be caused by the disorder, not a psychiatric condition or problems within the relationship.

No such requirements for Viagra or Cialis, at least according to emails I get about them daily from pharmacies in Canada.

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Sprout Pharmaceuticals, the drug’s manufacturer (now owned by Valeant) is confident about the drug’s success despite the lack of fanfare, but neither doctors nor human sexuality experts are so sure. Thea Cacchioni, a sociologist who testified against the drug’s approval, pointed out that instead of trying to treat low libido with drugs, more attention should be paid to how female sexuality is portrayed in the media and its stigmatization of women who aren’t raring to go 24/7.


Contact the author at mark.shrayber@jezebel.com.

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