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Drug to increase women’s sex drive wins FDA approval

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Image: Couple in bed | Source: Sexual Health


For women with low sex drive, the United States Food and Drug Administration has approved a new EpiPen-like drug that promises to boost libido.

AMAG Pharmaceuticals says that the drug, bremelanotide, helps women with hyposexual desire disorder, or HSDD. The FDA made the decision last week.

The drug is somewhat similar to medications used to treat erectile dysfunction in men, in that they are meant to be used “on demand” — when a person wants to be sexually intimate. But that is where the similarity stops. Erectile dysfunction drugs work by increasing blood flow to a man’s genitals. Bremelanotide, on the other hand, works by targeting a woman’s brain chemistry.

Put simply, experts say women with low sex drive tend to have higher levels of brain chemicals that increase sexual inhibition, and lower levels of chemicals that lead to sexual excitement.

Bremelanotide is said to work to balance out those chemical levels. “It is about trying to restore this balance and tipping it in the direction of excitation when a woman wants it,” said Dr. Julie Krop, chief medical officer for AMAG Pharmaceuticals. Women are more complex than men sexually. It is hormonal, but it is not just hormonal. But some sexual health experts argue that a woman’s libido is much more than simple brain chemistry.

“Women are more complex than men sexually. It’s hormonal, but it’s not just hormonal,” said Dr. Virginia Sadock, a clinical professor and director of human sexuality training in the Department of Psychiatry at NYU Langone.

Still, Sadock is not ready to dismiss bremelanotide entirely. “It is obviously something women are interested in, and it’s worth pursuing. But is it a miracle drug? Unlikely,” Sadock told NBC News.The drug, which will be marketed under the brand name Vyleesi, is an auto-injector, and is administered just like an EpiPen. The shot is self-administered to the abdomen or thigh at least 45 minutes before sexual activity.


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