A couple weeks ago, I wrote about so-called “Pink Viagra”–which is actually flibanserin, a drug manufactured by the German pharmaceutical company Boehringer Ingelheim–that has shown promising results regarding the treatment of hypoactive sexual desire disorder in women. HSDD is the loss of sexual thoughts, fantasies, and desire, and, I argued, this vague definition could be manipulated to encourage over-medicating.
I said this not because I don’t think HSDD is real, but because I generally avoid taking pills when I don’t have to, and encourage others to do the same. But sometimes, I need Advil. People I love very much are on Coumadin and Celexa and Lipitor and a ton of other stuff, and I’m glad, because they require it to be happy and healthy and, in some cases, to live. So if a woman is suffering from HSDD, and she believes flibanserin could help her have a better life, she should at least have it as an option.
But there’s a weird debate raging over the drug, and, as Katrina vanden Heuvel points out in the Washington Post, it’s based in some twisted sexist logic:
The assumption that pink Viagra is a scam is reactionary and, at worst, chauvinistic and cruel…There seems to be a sexual double standard at work here. Contrast the criticism of flibanserin with that leveled at Viagra upon its FDA approval a dozen years ago. In March 1998, press coverage focused far more on the drug’s implications for Pfizer’s stock price and on the parade of aging baby boomers expected to descend upon the dispensary than on the legitimacy of erectile dysfunction as a medical condition. Not so for Viagra’s new analogue, which has been covered with considerably more skepticism.
She’s right. True, we’re a more pill-conscious society now than we were in 1998, with greater concern for whole foods and natural living–as we should be. Skepticism is warranted, and right. But that still doesn’t account for the reaction to flibanserin.