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Low sexual desire is not a disease. Stop FDA approval of Flibanserin.
pretzeliter wrote in asexuality
Earlier today, Elizabeth encouraged readers to sign a petition to
This is a petition to advocate against FDA approval for Flibanserin, a so-called ‘female Viagra’ recently produced by the drug company Boehringer Ingelheim. It is extremely important that the FDA does not approve Flibanserin,

This petition is written by theNew View Campagin.

On their website, they say:
Please go to Change.org and look for the Low Sexual Desire petition and sign it and circulate it to others. ASAP, please. We will take these petitions to the June 18 Flibanserin hearing.

I've been following the news surrounding this drug for a while, and there is much to be troubled about. Neuroskeptic has a good post about it One pill makes your libido larger:
Flibanserin was originally developed as an antidepressant, but in clinical trials against depression it reportedly failed to perform better than placebo. The standard for getting approved as an antidepressant is low, so this is quite an achievement.

After an a review of the relevant scientific information, Neuroskeptic suggests how it works:
It's obvious from the side effects data that this drug is a sedative - it makes you tired and sleepy. The animal data confirm this. It's much more likely to put you to sleep than it is to make you enjoy sex in any given month. Off the top of my head, I suspect its sedative properties are a result of its 5HT2A antagonism.

Any sedative can increase sexual desire, as anyone who has ever been to a bar will know. So whether this drug actually has an aphrodisiac effect, as opposed to just being a sleeping pill, is anyone's guess. To find out, you'd need to compare it to a sleeping pill, say, Valium. Or a couple of glasses of wine. Until someone does that, we don't know if this drug is destined to be the next big thing or a big disappointment.


Cory Silverberg reports on the effect size:
Women taking the drug also reported more "sexually satisfying events" than women taking the placebo. The increase in satisfying events was statistically significant, but it's worth considering the actual numbers. According to the aforementioned corporate press release women taking the drug had 1.2 more satisfying sexual events over 24 weeks compared to women taking a placebo who had 0.9 more satisfying events. That's 1.2 more sexual encounters they enjoyed over a six month period.

It doesn't look like this drug is going to do much, but it seems that everyone watching knows has strong reason to believe that, if approved by the FDA, there will be massive "educational campaigns" about how oh-so-distressing a problem lack of interest in and how oh-so-widespread it is. But you begin to think that the purpose is to create distress about lack of interest in sex.

A confession: There are a number of reasons that I am opposed to Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder (or Sexual Interest/Arousal Disorder.) But my biggest concern is that if a drug for HSDD is ever approved, there will be massive attempts to create distress surrounding low sexual desire. Conceptually, these diagnoses make no senses, and I feel that the asexual community is in a unique position to bring to the fore these problems and to create more reasoned and more nuanced discourse surrounding low/absent sexual desire.

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I have to disagree. I don't think this is going to be used to "cure" asexuality in a big way. Many women are distressed about their lack of sexual interest. This drug is for those women who want to increase their sex drive, often because they used to have a bigger one and it's since dwindled.

I know it's a touchy subject for the asexual community, but we really are a very small minority. Many people with low sex drives do see it as a problem and would be glad to have it fixed. This drug is for them, not for us who are content with our states.

This is what I was coming to say. HSDD isn't (as far as I know) a medical definition for asexuality. Some sexual people have low sex drives and want higher ones (like old people idk).

+1

There are women who this drug could help, and they should be allowed to have the option.

This.

There are people who have low sex drives and think it's a genuine problem, they know what they want and how they think their body should act. It's not for people who don't think their lack of a sex drive is a problem and people certainly aren't going to force asexuals to take it.

Yes, except that this drug does nothing to help those people. It's being offered as a very much false cure. For everyone, not just asexuals. It will help no one except pharmaceutical companies if this drug gets approved.

I got this link from Emily Nagoski's blog--she is a sex researcher (who is also coincidentally a faculty sponsor for her university's asexuality group, if that lends her some favor). I haven't had much time online tonight, so I just wanted to forward the link very quickly, and in my haste I didn't point out any of the things she did in her original post. Check it out first before deciding to support this because some people are distressed about having a lower sex drive.

I'm a happily married heteroromantic who's probably asexual. I would *love* to be able to increase my sex drive (or have one in the first place), so that I could share this deeply meaningful experience with my oh-so-patient husband. But if this is really a sleeping pill in disguise, then it sounds like a way for Big Pharma to get rich on unsuspecting people. And it's true tht it will ramp up the advertising targeted at emotionally vulnerable people like me.

Then it should not be approved on the grounds that it's worthless, imo, not about how it's existance could possibly affect asexuals.

This. Exactly this.

Banning something because it doesn't apply to you is precisely what's preventing gay marriage from being legalized in the States.

And besides, medication is rarely forced on people, even in cases where it's medically necessary.

It appears that I had messed something up with my html, but I've fixed it now. I know perfectly well that supporters of this will point out that many people are distressed by lack of interest in sex. The problem with this drug is that a) it barely does anything at all (check out that effect size), b) it encourages people to treat things as a silver bullet and ignore the real issues (i.e. relational ones).

But don't all superficial drugs do that? I'm sorry but I'm not really seeing what petitioning this drug (the female equivalent of a drug that's already widely released) will really do or how it will affect asexuals.

There is some truth to that, but my view is that we should think of it in terms of risk/benefit. How much benefit would there be to people were this drug approved? How much harm?

For any drug, there is the possibility of harm. What about possible side effects? How much will it cost people? Even if it is helpful for some people, will those mostly be the only ones it is prescribed for? Or will it be massively over prescribed? For this drug, the risk/cost is high when compared to the benefit (which is statistically significant but extremely small.) However, the drug company pushing for it knows that they would make huge amounts of money from if it is approved, so they will be making a big push for it.

And if it is approved, it is almost certain that we'll be hearing lots of commercials about how oh-so-distressing not being interested in sex is (just like ED commercials have come to be so ubiquitous). I think that lots of messages about how what a serious problem Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder is will be harmful for asexuals.

Slightly OT but this really brings home to me how different your medical arrangement are compared to our National Health Service:

Here in the UK:

  • The advertising of prescription drugs is illegal. The only drugs advertised here are ones like Ibuprofen painkillers that you can buy over the counter.
  • Prescription drugs are provided free to the poor / disabled / pregnant / elderly / children, or at fixed low cost to everyone else (max about $30 per month regardless of how many drugs you need or what the drug(s) actually costs).
  • Medical decisions are made by doctors who have a duty of care but also an interest in not over-prescribing.

Our NHS is far from perfect but the idea of prescription drugs being advertised, or people having to pay full costs, seems barbaric from my POV.

Viagra is available to those who genuinely need it, and I can see that the female sexual community will e largely in favour of something similar - but to get approved here it'd have to be proven to actually work.

So is Viagra actually being peddled by doctors as a cure-all for asexual men, and these fears about a 'female Viagra' are being raised by extension? Or are these concerns about massive educational campaigns being raised just for this drug?

I can see both sides of this topic, but I think as others have touched on, this is going to be used for people who WANT it. People who have low sex drives and are bothered by it can use it as a chance to raise their sex drive.

And yes, this could make it harder in some ways for those of us who then "chose" to keep our low sex drive, but in the end, it'll be a similar battle we've always fought.

So true. In a way, it might make it easier for people to understand that sometimes it isn't a disorder.

"I'm not interested in sex."
"You know there's a pill for that now?"
"Yes, but it's for people who are troubled about their disinterest. I'm quite content."
"Not wanting sex doesn't bother you?"
"Not at all - it's simply the way I am."

(Deleted comment)
Once again they know nothing about chemicals. I abhor the Psychiatric community.

"Flibanserin was originally developed as an antidepressant... It's obvious from the side effects data that this drug is a sedative - it makes you tired and sleepy."- Sorry, we've not idea what we're doing but playing with your mind, yet again.

Since when does sedatives sexually activates you? Stupid fucks (Sorry, I'm drunk and I'm pissed off).

I rather take Ecstasy, thank you very much. At least I know what to expect. Cunts. All they want is your money. Stop pushing chemicals on people. ENOUGH.

And I, btw, an not content with my state. I want to be closer to social norms, because I'm so far of them, and I'm not talking only about asexuality.

But this shit is no cure.

As much as I dislike the increased public perception that any "low" libido is a disease, I cannot in all good conscience forbid the manufacturing of any drug. Like it or not, there are actually women that experience a lower libido than what they were accustomed to, and if this drug can help them return to a libido that they felt comfortable with, all the better. No drug should ever be banned because some people feel "uncomfortable" about it, people who will never use the drug. It's not like you are being forced to use it.

What I'd actually prefer to see is more drug advertising that emphasizes that libido should only be altered if one is unhappy with it, and that there is is no established "normal" libido. Any doctor worth his or her salt already acknowledges this. I've heard various television doctors (including Dr. Oz) mention this already. Unfortunately, constant ads showing beaming men and women happy with their viagra, cialis, or what have you, does give some of the less-than-informed lay people the impression that a "lower" libido is a deficient one.

In a real since, drugs for HSDD already exist so this is nothing new under the sun, but a careful rewording of HSDD may be in order to emphasize that a lower libido is only a disorder if it causes the person distress.

Thankfully, there is increasing public awareness of the manner in which advertising companies manufacture a need for a drug that wasn't there before. Remember when parents were clamoring for ritalin for their "ADHD" kids back in the 80s? Even though there truly are children and adults with ADHD, and ritalin helped those children that had it, too many parents started thinking that every hyperactive kid had ADHD and needed medication. Too many doctors were only too happy to supply it when other psychiatrists refused to.

I noticed that some on the Feministing blog have already expressed their skeptical views towards the drug and its advertising, so I see this as a positive sign that not everyone feels their libido needs fixing because of an advertisement.

I've never liked the diagnosis HSDD. A major problem with is it is that a diagnosis should represent a syndrome, not a symptom. In my view, low sexual desire is sometimes a symptom of a disorder (in which case the diagnosis should be that disorder, not the symptom), sometimes an adaptive response to a life situation (i.e. relationship problems), and sometimes "normal variation."

Now, with the idea that many asexuals "MAY actually have a medical issue," the matter is more complex than is often discussed. One issue is whether everyone ought to be interested in sex. If no, then there would be no reason to seek out medical attention if the only issue was lack of interest in sex. If there are other issues (symptomatic of some disorder), then medical attention would be prudent. Another major issue are the practical ones of a) how likely it is that medical attention might actually increase sexual interest (the general belief in the literature is that sexual desire "disorders" are among the hardest "sexual dysfuctions" to treat), and b) how likely it is that a lack of sexual interest is indicative of some other issue (the sense in the literature is that for patients presenting with complaints of low sexual desire, sometimes a medical cause can be found, but usually not).

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