A Pill for Female Libido?

Nov 17, 2015

By Trevor Shewfelt, Pharmacist at the Dauphin Clinic Pharmacy

I know guys who say I don't care about the color of people. I don't care if people are red, green, yellow or purple. I say wait a minute. You have to draw the line somewhere. So that's it. To hell with purple people. Unless they're choking..... then Help'em! I love when Mitch Hedberg clips show up on Just for Laughs reruns.

Doug Deans says lawyer jokes are almost an occupational hazard in his profession. What do you call a million lawyers at the bottom of the sea? A good start! If my profession has an occupational hazard joke, it has to be the Viagra joke. What's the difference between Niagara and Viagra? Niagara Falls. Why has Viagra been a boon to Comedians? Because it helps them stand up. And my favorite combines Doug's profession and mine: What happens when you give a lawyer Viagra? He gets taller.

As much fun as Viagra jokes are, erectile dysfunction isn't funny. It affects many peoples lives and relationships. Viagra was one of the first effective and easy to take treatments for the condition. Maybe even more important than the fact it worked is since Viagra was so popular it started conversations between men and their doctors that probably wouldn't have happened otherwise.

Well there is a new drug on the horizon that might cause a similar stir. It has even been called the pink Viagra. The drug will be called Addyi or flibanserin and it will be the first drug on the market for low sexual desire in women who haven't reached menopause. It appears Addyi will be available in the US first and then Health Canada will consider if they want to approve it for sale in Canada.

Flibanserin has been referred to as Pink Viagra because the pill is actually pink. It has been called female Viagra, but that isn't accurate. They work in very different ways. Sildenafil or Viagra increases blood flow to fix the mechanical problem of erectile dysfunction in men. Flibanserin works on chemicals in the brains of women.

Sexual interest is a very complicated thing. We think there are at least three neurotransmitters or brain chemicals involved. Dopamine and norepinephrine both increase sexual desire. Serotonin seems to decrease sexual interest. Flibanserin works by increasing dopamine and serotonin activity while it impedes serotonin.

Another big difference between Viagra and flibanserin is how the medications are taken. Viagra is taken when the gentleman wants the desired effect to happen. Flibanserin must be taken every day for it to work. But flibanserin does seem to have some modest good effects if taken every day. About 1 in 11 premenopausal women will report one more satisfying sexual event every 1 to 2 months on flibanserin compared to placebo.

As interesting as I think flibanserin is as a pharmacist, I don't think it will become popular. Let's start with its side effects. About 1 in 10 people on flibanserin will experience dizziness, sleepiness, nausea or fatigue. These were bad enough that 2.7% of patients in the trials experienced an injury. That is why flibanserin is recommended to be taken at night. That way the dizziness and sedation will hopefully be slept through.

The next problem is drug interactions. Taking flibanserin with certain common medications is contraindicated. That is because medications like fluconazole, clarithromycin and grapefruit juice when combined with flibanserin can cause dangerously low blood pressure (hypotension) or fainting (syncope). Alcohol can also cause dangerously low blood pressure (hypotension) or fainting (syncope) when combined with flibanserin. Since flibanserin must be taken every day, the women must not drink any alcohol at all. That includes some alcohol you don't normal think of like the alcohol in cough syrups and mouth washes.

The last problem is cost. We don't know what the final cost in Canada will be since Addyi or flibanserin hasn't been approved for sale here yet. But it could be up to $1000 per month. I believe that will put it out of reach for most women how could benefit from it.

Sexual dysfunction in men or women isnt a joking matter. It can seriously affect peoples lives and relationships. And I shouldnt have disparaged Doug Deans whole professional by saying lawyers get taller when they take a Viagra. Picturing a million of them at the bottom of the sea is much funnier.

We now have this and most other articles published in the Parkland Shopper on our Website. Please visit us at www.dcp.ca

The information in this article is intended as a helpful guide only. It is not intended to be used as a substitute for professional advice. If you have any questions about your medications and what is right for you see your doctor, pharmacist or other health care professional.

Addyi website: https://www.addyi.com/

Mitch Hedberg: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mitch_Hedberg


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