A Second ‘Viagra for Women’ Drug in Development

Another drug has been approved in the United States that aims to treat low libido in women.

The new treatment comes in an injectable form, administered similar to an EpiPen, and was approved on Friday by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for premenopausal women who struggle with sexual desire and distress.

However, it is not the first drug to be given the green light for such a purpose. Back in October 2015 you may recall that Medical Specialists reported how the FDA had approved Addyi to be the first pill-based treatment of any type of low sexual desire.

Unfortunately, Addyi (Flibanserin) proved to be a huge disaster for its creators and flopped massively with the public, failing to live up to its hype as ‘the female Viagra’.

Concerns about serious side effects when used in conjunction with alcohol, as well as the high costs to buy the drug, meant it was perhaps doomed from the start.

In April though, the FDA actually confirmed that in fact women could drink on Addyi, and investors are now waiting to see if that positive news can turn sales around.

In the meantime, there may be another treatment to try and take the mantle of being the female counterpart to the male erectile dysfunction drug Viagra.

The new treatment is being called Vyleesi (the brand name for bremelanotide, produced by AMAG Pharmaceuticals) and so far has found to have positive results across two trials of 1,200 women. It gets even better though…there appear to be no restrictions (i.e alcohol) when using the treatment.

Similar to Addyi, bremelanotide affects brain receptors – albeit different receptors – to ease inhibition in women diagnosed with hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD); an ongoing lack of interest in sex and distress caused when being intimate.

Viagra and other PDE-5 drugs such as Cialis work at boosting blood flow to a man’s penis, whilst Addyi and bremelanotide impact the brain in a way comparable to an antidepressant.

While Addyi works on dopamine to increase excitement and dulls serotonin, the neurotransmitter which causes people to feel self-conscious, Bremelanotide targets melanocortin 4, which eases distress and boosts desire.

So far in trials experts have discovered bremelanotide to be rather good at easing distress in those women suffering HSDD. At the close of the trial, most women saw a one-point reduction in distress, measured on a scale of 1-4.

There was only a minor increase in ‘desire’, with an increase of an average of 0.6 points on a scale of 1.2-6.

The drug manufacturers claim that just a slight increase in desire is actually significant for women that have HSDD.

The main issue in treating HSDD stems from the fact the problem can be subjective, is based on an initial self-diagnosis, followed by a process of elimination, with doctors trying various treatments before determining the patient has HSDD.

Therefore, it is rare for women to receive an official diagnosis and experts often debate on what is the best way to treat the problem, whereas others question if HSDD is actually a ‘real’ problem.

One thing is clear however is that the FDA’s verdict on Friday helps recognise HSDD as a genuine health problem and could open the door for further treatment options in the future.

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