When Will "Female Viagra," Flibanserin, Be Available To Buy? A FDA Panel Brought It One Step Closer To Reality

SHANGHAI, CHINA - JULY 5: A Chinese doctor shows the anti-impotence drug Viagra at a hospital in Shanghai 05 July 2000. Viagra officially made its debut in mainland China 03 July and is now available by prescription in full-service Chinese hospitals for the retail price of 71 yuan (8.60 USD) for a 25mg-dose and 99 yuan (11.90 USD) for a 50mg-dose per tablet. In the Chinese market, Viagra, sold under the Chinese name of Wan Ai Ke, is being produced in a joint venture factory between Pfizer pharmaceutical and Dalian pharmaceutical in the northeastern Chinese city of Dalian. AFP PHOTO/LIU Jin (Photo credit should read LIU JIN/AFP/Getty Images)
Source: LIU JIN/AFP/Getty Images

On June 4, an advisory committee to the Food and Drug Administration brought female Viagra one step closer to reality. In a 18-6 vote, the committee voted to recommend approval with conditions. But when can you buy the female version of Viagra, flibanserinUPDATE: On August 18, the FDA officially approved Flibanserin, the "female Viagra," which will be known as Addyi and will be in pharmacies as early as October 17. 

The drug that would heighten female sex drive has been rejected twice by the FDA because the side effects, "fainting, nausea, dizziness, sleepiness and low-blood pressure," outweighed the benefits of the drug. Even as they voted to approve flibanserin, the committee noted that the effects were only "moderate" or "marginal." 

It turns out that there has been a lot of controversy around the drug, mainly stemming from the fact that many in the pharmaceutical field believe that hypoactive sexual desire disorder, the thing that flibanserin purports to treat, isn't an actual disorder at all. Georgetown University Medical Center's Dr. Adriane Fugh-Berman told NBC before the testimony:

Hypoactive sexual desire disorder was actually invented by pharmaceutical companies. It was originally invented to sell the testosterone patch. And certainly there are women that have low libido, but that can be caused by many different things, including medications, such as the birth control pill and antidepressants and blood pressure medicines, for example.

Regardless of criticisms, the drug's testing seem safe enough to most of the members of the advisory committee to recommend it for approval. So what comes next? 

The FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research is the head honcho in making sure you're getting safe drugs, so there's an important step. But now when you can actually buy this stuff?

The FDA has two different approval processes, the standard review and the priority review. The FDA doesn't actually test the drugs itself, it relies on the drug developer, in this case it's Sprout Pharmaceuticals, to go through the testing. Now, the drug will likely go through the standard review, which takes 10 months, rather than the priority review, which would be fast tracked to six months and is usually reserved for "major advancements." Somehow, I don't feel like helping a woman increase her sex drive will be considered a priority by the FDA. 

This drug has been denied approval twice, so even being approved by an advisory committee is a huge step. Let's hope that soon women who feel that they are suffering from low sex drive could soon be aided by drugs, just as men are.

Images: Getty Images (1)

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