Saturday November 23, 2019

US: New Drug to Boost Low Sex Drive in Women

The drug’s developer could also face some of the same hurdles that have plagued the lone pill previously approved

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Drug, Sex Drive, US
The Food and Drug Administration campus in Silver Spring, Maryland. VOA

U.S. women will soon have another drug option designed to boost low sex drive: a shot they can give themselves in the thigh or abdomen that raises sexual interest for several hours.

The medication OK’d Friday by the Food and Drug Administration is only the second approved to increase sexual desire in a women, a market drugmakers have been trying to cultivate since the blockbuster success of Viagra for men in the late 1990s. The other drug is a daily pill.

The upside of the new drug “is that you only use it when you need it,” said Dr. Julia Johnson, a reproductive specialist at UMass Memorial Medical Center who was not involved in its development. “The downside is that it’s a shot — and some people are very squeamish.”

The drug’s developer, Amag Pharmaceuticals, could also face some of the same hurdles that have plagued the lone pill previously approved for the condition, including unpleasant side effects and limited insurance coverage. The company declined to release price information.

Drug, Sex Drive, US
U.S. women will soon have another drug option designed to boost low sex drive. Pixabay

The FDA approved the new drug, Vyleesi (pronounced vie-LEE’-see), for premenopausal women with a disorder defined by a persistent lack of interest in sex, causing stress. The most common side effect in company studies was nausea. The approval was based on women’s responses to questionnaires that showed increases in sexual desire and decreases in stress related to sex. The women didn’t report having more sex, the original goal for the drug.

“Women are not desiring more sex. They want better sex,” said Dr. Julie Krop, Amag’s chief medical officer.

Flushing, injection site reactions and headache are other common side effects.

Women with high blood pressure or heart disease should not take the drug because increases in blood pressure were observed after injections, the FDA said. It also could interfere with oral naltrexone, a drug for people with alcohol and opioid dependence, the FDA said.

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Because so many factors affect sexual desire, doctors must rule out other causes before diagnosing the condition, including relationship issues, medical problems and mood disorders. The condition, known as hypoactive sexual desire disorder, is not universally accepted, and some psychologists argue that low sex drive should not be considered a medical problem.

Still, the pharmaceutical industry has long pointed to surveys — some funded by drugmakers — suggesting that it is the most common female sexual disorder in the nation, affecting roughly 1 in 10 women. Amag estimates nearly 6 million U.S. women meet the criteria for the drug.

Cynthia Pearson, executive director of the National Women’s Health Network, urged women to avoid using the drug “until more is known about its safety and effectiveness.” She noted in a statement that Amag had not yet published full clinical trial results.

The search for a pill to treat women’s sexual difficulties was once a top priority for many of the world’s biggest drugmakers, including Pfizer, Bayer and Procter & Gamble. Those companies and others studied and later abandoned drugs acting on blood flow, testosterone and other targets.

Drug, Sex Drive, US
The medication OK’d Friday by the Food and Drug Administration is only the second approved to increase sexual desire. Pixabay

Vyleesi acts on receptors for a brain-stimulating hormone called melanocortin, which is associated with sexual arousal and appetite in both men and women.

Waltham, Massachusetts-based Amag plans to pitch the drug to consumers through social media, including a website called unblush.com that tells women that low sex drive “is nothing to blush about.”

Amag’s campaign has some of the hallmarks that helped launch the first female libido drug, Addyi, a once-a-day pill approved in 2015. The FDA decision followed a contentious four-year review that included a lobbying effort funded by Addyi’s maker, Sprout Pharmaceuticals, which framed the lack of female sex drugs as a women’s rights issue.

Women taking Addyi showed a slight uptick in “sexually satisfying events” per month and improved scores on psychiatric questionnaires. Those results were only slightly better than what women taking a placebo reported, but they were significant enough to meet FDA effectiveness standards.

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The pink pill — originally developed as an antidepressant — was ultimately approved with a bold warning that it should not be combined with alcohol, due to risks of fainting and dangerously low blood pressure.

Most insurers refused to cover the drug, citing lackluster effectiveness, and many women balked at the $800-per-month price. Last year, Sprout slashed the price to $400. It was prescribed just 6,000 times last year, according to investment analyst data.

UMass’s Johnson said drugs should not be the first choice for treating women’s sexual problems. Instead, she recommends counseling to help women “separate all the stresses of life” from their sex life.

“But if that doesn’t work, having a medication that may help is worth trying,” she said. (VOA)

Next Story

Google Gives Up on US Carriers, will Roll Out its Own RCS Chat System

Plus, you'll get better group chats, with the ability to name groups, add and remove people to and from groups, and see if people haven't seen the latest messages

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Google, US, RCS
With RCS on Android, when you and your friends message each other with new chat features, you can chat over Wi-Fi or mobile data, send and receive high-resolution photos and videos, and see if people have received your latest messages. Pixabay

Tired of dilly-dallying at the end of US telecom carriers, Google has announced to roll out its own Rich Communication Services (RCS) on Android that will replace the traditional SMS text messaging with more useful chat features.

“To make your conversations more seamless, we’ve worked on upgrading traditional SMS text messaging with more useful chat features, powered by RCS (Rich Communication Services),” Google said in a statement on Thursday.

With RCS on Android, when you and your friends message each other with new chat features, you can chat over Wi-Fi or mobile data, send and receive high-resolution photos and videos, and see if people have received your latest messages.

“Plus, you’ll get better group chats, with the ability to name groups, add and remove people to and from groups, and see if people haven’t seen the latest messages,” informed Google.

Google, US, RCS
To make your conversations more seamless, we’ve worked on upgrading traditional SMS text messaging with more useful chat features, powered by RCS (Rich Communication Services). Pixabay

Earlier this year, Google enabled the ability for anyone in the UK, France, and Mexico to get chat features in Messages.

Users of Google’s app will eventually see a notification to “Do more with Messages,” and then they’ll be able to “enable chat features” which is RCS.

Chat features are already available for some in Google Messages, and are being broadly rolled out in the US.

“If you already have Messages, you’ll also be prompted to enable chat features in the coming weeks. If you don’t have Messages, you can download it on the Play Store. We expect this service to be broadly available in the US by the end of year,” said the company.

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Google said it is committed to working with its partners, including carriers and device makers, to provide a consistent and interoperable experience for everyone on Android.

RCS is a communication protocol between mobile telephone carriers and between phone and carrier, aiming at replacing SMS messages with a text-message system that is richer and can transmit in-call multimedia. (IANS)