Simplicity, Complexity, and the Hunt for Pink Viagra

Simplicity, Complexity, and the Hunt for Pink Viagra

  Oct 27, 2014   Will there ever be a “Viagra for women?”    If so, would it ever make it past the FDA?  And how many would women would really ever want to take it? In 2010, an FDA committee voted not to approve Boehringer-Ingelheim’s  flibanserin — a medication reported to somewhat improve female sexual desire.   The flibanserin hearings were an important battle in the current controversy over whether the so-called “medicalization of sexuality” (think Viagra, etc) is a good thing or not. Proponents of “sexual medicine” have been at odds with a vocal grassroots “anti-medicalization” movement for years on this issue. To call flibanserin “Pink Viagra” makes little sense in reality, since the two drugs have little in common.  Viagra works on arousal, and flibanserin works on desire.  Viagra works on the genitals.  Flibanserin works on the mind.  And it’s likely that flibanserin, if it’s ever approved, will have a much more modest impact on female desire than Viagra has on male erections. So why the repeated references to flibanserin as “Viagra for women” and “Pink Viagra”? Ignorance, for one.  Never bet against ignorance in the field of sexuality.  (More on that later).   And money, certainly.  There’s always someone hoping that a drug for women will make as much money from women as Viagra has from men.   But I think there’s another important factor at work.  Phrases such as “Pink Viagra” refer, however unconsciously, to an important divide between male and female sexuality:  the relative complexity of women’s sexual response, compared to men’s.   Behind the hope for a “Viagra for women” is a wish...