Meredith Weston, M.S. is the eLearning Program Manager at AAPS.
When people think of the gender equality movement, they tend to think of things like equal pay, pregnancy discrimination, and job competition. What probably does not come to mind is prescription drugs for sexual dysfunction. The fact is, however, that March 2014 marks 16 years since the approval of Viagra for men and, although the market currently includes more than 20 drugs to address sexual dysfunction, not a single one is for women.
The search for a female sexual dysfunction drug has been an obsession of the pharmaceutical industry for more than a decade. This is largely due to the fact that Viagra showed that massive sums of money (Pfizer said it brought in more than $2 billion in sales in 2012 alone) can be made with a quick chemical solution to intimacy problems. With WebMD reporting that 43 percent of women have some sort of sexual issue, there is ample room for progress and money to be made. Ready to capitalize on this disparity, researchers from the British company ORLIBID say that a sexual dysfunction pill for women should be available in the UK at the end of 2015. The drug, which acts on the brain to increase desire, is a synthetic version of melatonin, a hormone usually associated with tanning. Another new drug on the horizon offering the same promise is Lybridos. Having been created by a Dutch and US firm, Emotional Brain, this pill contains testosterone and targets areas of the brain related to sexual desire and could be on sale within three years.
Of course, a woman’s love and libido are complex issues that cannot simply be solved by a little pink pill. For most women, desire stems from our brain—how we feel and our mood. Science has gone as far as naming three main neurotransmitters as the key to love: adrenaline, dopamine, and serotonin. Therefore, a lack of desire could be linked to anything from pure boredom to a drop in hormones. Nonetheless, the idea that a pill could be the answer to these big issues has sparked a host of gender politicking in the media and set the internet ablaze with speculation.
Will 2014 be the year of sex drugs for women? If so, only one thing is for sure, there is a pharmaceutical company out there that will be thanking the blockbuster gods!