May 24th, 2010
12:38 PM ET

Libido booster for women to get FDA consideration

By John Bonifield
CNN Medical Producer

When men show up at the pharmacy to pick up prescription drugs for sex problems, they have several options. Viagra. Cialis. Levitra. That hasn’t been the case for women with similar problems. But a Food and Drug Administration panel next month will debate approving a pill that could bring on the demise of this double standard. The drug, called flibanserin, has been developed to boost women’s libido.

“The most common sexual problem for women is low desire,” says Sheryl Kingsberg, a clinical psychologist with University Hospitals in Cleveland, Ohio. “These women are really distressed by it.”

The German drug company Boehringer Ingelheim developed flibanserin as an antidepressant. The drug didn’t work as a treatment for depression, but it did produce a surprising libido-enhancing side effect in some women.

“There are millions of women who have a sexual life that is problematic for them,” says Michael Sand, the company’s director of clinical research on flibanserin.

According Sand, women taking flibanserin experience an increase in sexual desire and satisfying sexual activity and a decrease in emotional distress.

If the FDA approves flibanserin, Kingsberg says, the drug will be a game changer.

“If nothing else, it's going to open the door to women knowing that they're entitled to good quality sexual health. That it's not just for men anymore,” says Kingsberg, who has been a paid consultant for the company and for other developers of libido-enhancing drugs.

Boehringer Ingelheim plans to discuss its findings on flibanserin with the FDA on June 18.

Next week on CNN, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen will explore female libido and what’s available now to help restore a lagging sex drive.

Editor's Note: Medical news is a popular but sensitive subject rooted in science. We receive many comments on this blog each day; not all are posted. Our hope is that much will be learned from the sharing of useful information and personal experiences based on the medical and health topics of the blog. We encourage you to focus your comments on those medical and health topics and we appreciate your input. Thank you for your participation.

soundoff (204 Responses)
  1. ashok

    It is the first step in right direction for the silent suffering ladies.I say "Hurray" for the ladies.Hound the congress,senate and FDA till they understand HSDD affects men and women equally.

    May 24, 2010 at 13:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. k8isnvrl8

    Will this drug, originally developed as an anti-depressant, help someone whose low libido is caused by taking other anti-depressants?

    May 24, 2010 at 13:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Patty

    I have suffered with this for over 25 years. It is frustrating and tramatic. I love my husband and want to have a complete and fulfilling marriage. I have begged Dr.s for years to help me and find a solution. I am so excited about finally having something that might help.

    May 24, 2010 at 13:42 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Terry

    It's obvious the FDA will approve it. Can't wait to see the side effects.

    If a company that makes a natural libido makes any claims, the FDA will slam them. The FDA and Big Pharma. What a pair!

    Soon we will be watching drug commercials 24 hours a day.

    May 24, 2010 at 13:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Linda

    Honestly, it's about time something was done for us women! Any health solution is always for men first. Women deserve to have a healthy sex life.

    May 24, 2010 at 13:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. rpizzi

    I believe this article is truly misleading. Viagra, Cialis and Levitra have no effect sexual desire. There is no drug available to men that address problems related to low libido. Viagra and similar drugs have no effect on sexual desire, only on the physiology of erection.
    There is really no double standard in this area. A female equivalent of Viagra would be a drug that increases vaginal lubrication, but do nothing for actual sexual desire–period. I wonder why CNN is being so irresponsible as to promote the myth that Viagra is an aphrodisiac of sort.

    May 24, 2010 at 13:45 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Ugh

    Five or ten years down the road they'll tell women to stop taking it because it will grow a p e n i s or a third eye or something.

    May 24, 2010 at 13:47 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. Michael

    Comparing E.D. in men to lack of interest in females, the only common denominator here is pharmacology. This article seems out of sync with the symptoms that cause men to seek meds. For women, lack of interest isn't exactly a "dealbreaker". For men lack of erection certainly is.

    May 24, 2010 at 13:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. LSusitna

    A good night's sleep and some help with the household chores would improve a lot of women's libidos without the drugs. Most of us just have too much going on, and sex becomes just one more chore to perform before we can finally go to sleep at night.

    May 24, 2010 at 13:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Jeff

    Make a pill to increase the sex drive of females and make a male birth control pill and the world will change.

    May 24, 2010 at 14:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. DWT

    This drug gets my vote for worst name in recent memory. Flibanserin? Sounds to much like "flab" to get most women I know excited.

    May 24, 2010 at 14:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Bob

    What are the side-effects????????

    May 24, 2010 at 14:07 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Dr. Justin

    They already have a woman's libido booster on the market. I have no idea why someone would want a nasty drug to take to boost your sex drive. I just don't understand. This product has been out and has had a U.S. Patent on it for over 20 years. It is called Women's Matrix. I am NOT trying to sell anyone anything – I am simple letting people know that there is a safe alternative so some drug that hasn't even been released on the market. http://www.AdjustifedHealth.com is the link that you can find more information out about it. Hope your sex life is better after you get this going in your ladies body. Don't forget to try it for you as well men!

    May 24, 2010 at 14:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. heckya!

    I think this is great. It's such an issue for women. I want to keep up with my man in this department.

    May 24, 2010 at 14:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  15. On Flibanserin

    I happen to be in the clinical trial for this drug. It is a blind trial but I know due to side effects that I have the real drug. I honestly have to say that it works. I never thought I would get my sex drive back. I thought it was just a part of life after having 3 kids. The only side effect that I have had with it is the 2 times I took the drug in the morning because I forgot to take it before bed, I was extremely dizzy. This went away after 2 hours and I learned my lesson; if I forget it before bed I just need to skip that dose. I really hope this drug gets approved. It has changed my life for the better.

    May 24, 2010 at 14:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. Kim

    I can guarantee that women's libidos would increase immediately if men just heaved themselves off the couch, did some dishes, and put the kids to bed. Oh yeah, foreplay works too...

    May 24, 2010 at 14:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Lindsey

    I think this is great. I know lots of women who need a little help. It doesn't come as easily for the girls as it does the guys

    May 24, 2010 at 14:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  18. Alex

    I'm sure there will be negative side effects galor. Any time you mess with Mother Nature something bad happens.

    May 24, 2010 at 14:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Finally!

    Would like to know side effects too...men need to understand (I know, I know..."men" and "understand" in the same sentence!) that it isn't just them who have problems in this area...they usually just take it personally when we say no...

    May 24, 2010 at 14:28 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. heimlick

    Bob asks, "What are the side-effects????????"

    Article says, "... but it did produce a surprising libido-enhancing side effect in some women."

    It seems that the MAIN effect IS a SIDE effect.


    May 24, 2010 at 14:33 | Report abuse | Reply
  21. chucklehead

    Flowers. Jewelry. Do the dishes once in a while. There you go and no charge.

    May 24, 2010 at 14:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. Sybaris

    This is out of order.

    There's one glaring facet that has been overlooked.

    Most women who have a low drive are satisfied with having a low drive regardless of the opinion of their spouse.

    FIRST their needed to be a pill invented that convinces women they have a low drive, THEN the pill that increases their libido.

    May 24, 2010 at 14:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  23. John

    lol – But my wife has no desire to even obtain a sexual desire. They would need to make another pill that would force her to take the flibanserin pill.

    May 24, 2010 at 14:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  24. SAY WHAT

    They should also but birth control in everything to, then this world could not get more over populated: as it is already over populated.

    Birth control, in Viagra also!

    May 24, 2010 at 14:41 | Report abuse | Reply
  25. Replying to Michael

    Really???? How is lack of interest not a "dealbreaker" for you?
    That's called rape my friend...
    I'm sure you'll try to say you only meant if she was willing, just not particularly interested. If that's what you meant, I still find that sad and disturbing that you'll just take what you can get.

    Here is the post I'm referring to:
    "Comparing E.D. in men to lack of interest in females, the only common denominator here is pharmacology. This article seems out of sync with the symptoms that cause men to seek meds. For women, lack of interest isn't exactly a "dealbreaker". For men lack of erection certainly is."

    May 24, 2010 at 14:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. Waleed

    Hmmmm, I keep hearing women on here saying that "it's about time they did something for women." The way this news hits me is that this is once again a big win for the men!!!! Can I slip this in my wife's food, or will I get in some trouble for that??? Because what if your wife doesn't feel she need it (is happy to be sex free).

    May 24, 2010 at 14:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  27. christy

    I would love to have something that helps in that department. The only problem I have with it, is that I don't trust the FDA to ensure safety and long term side effects. Who knows, messing with hormones usually ends up creating cancer.

    May 24, 2010 at 14:44 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. L.W.

    This is wonderful news. After having a hysterectomy the libido has gone out the window! Men have several drugs to fall back on. I am amazed at some of the replies to this news..from both females as well as males. Get with it folks....it works both ways..

    May 24, 2010 at 14:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  29. CJ

    LSusitna May 24th, 2010 13:56 ET

    A good night's sleep and some help with the household chores would improve a lot of women's libidos without the drugs. Most of us just have too much going on, and sex becomes just one more chore to perform before we can finally go to sleep at night.

    Typical Female Response, However speaking from a males perspective who does help and works a 50 a week, cooks, dinner, does , laundry, runs kids to games and pratcie. Sometimes helping out around the house doesn't change the fact that she is still tired and or overstressed. I say if this drug helps it will definitely help in the marriage and stop a ton of needless divorces simply because a man is getting what he needs from his partner or the wife doesn't reciprocate the love that her husbands feels for his spouse

    May 24, 2010 at 14:59 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. Trongod

    My spouse has been seeking help for this problem too.

    No, there is no special pill yet. Women's Matrix is in truth an ephedra diet pill, and is NOT healthy for you. Ephedra is a stimulant that constricts blood vessels and increases blood pressure and heart rate. It is not good for most people in America.

    Flibanserin directly manipulates the chain of chemical reactions in the brain believed to trigger sexual desire. This is unlike Procter & Gamble's hormone patch Intrinsa, which is targeted at post-menopausal women. However it is not precisely known how flibanserin enhances sexual desire.

    Side effects reported where some occasional mid to moderate nausea, dizziness, insomnia, and in some cases drowsiness.

    It should be noted that this is not a fix all for women, and may not work well on every woman. Female HSDD (Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder) should be diagnosed by a professional prior to attempting to use such drugs.

    I am all for helping women have a good sexual life, after all, if this helps my wife, then great, and it might help her with her mild depression too; but I think the depression could be relieved by returning her and our family to the land she comes from, as this is her major depressor.

    May 24, 2010 at 15:01 | Report abuse | Reply
  31. karek40

    1. How long before approval, any legitimate estimates?

    2. Side effect, perhaps an increase in pregnancies.

    May 24, 2010 at 15:04 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. Alex

    Now, watch – IF this drug gets improved, I bet $1 million that it will not be covered by insurance. Even though the male sex enhancement drugs are.

    May 24, 2010 at 15:05 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. portraitofcorporategreed

    The price of an injection is $1200. This was intended first as an antidepressant. Who would pay $1200 for an antidepressant? Noone. the price is jacked up to bilk desperate women with a real problem.

    May 24, 2010 at 15:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. nanny

    I hope as well this drug gets approved and is not one of those that is priced so high that you can't afford to take it. I have been battling with loss of desire for quite some time now and it really does put a strain on a marriage!

    May 24, 2010 at 15:10 | Report abuse | Reply
  35. the truth

    the truth that the woman's desire comes from the man , if she doesn't feel to her husband attraction her desire disappears, taht is the truth, woman psyche is much more complicated, she needs connection nad respect to her man....

    May 24, 2010 at 15:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. Jake

    If it was "men first" they would have come up with the ladies drug first! That's my priority!

    May 24, 2010 at 15:12 | Report abuse | Reply
  37. Dick Smith

    I think the cure is not to come up with a drug that excites a woman's libido, but rather ban the food products that kills a woman's sex drive.
    For instance wedding cake, it seems to totally kill a woman's sex drive, so lets ban weddings altogether!

    Another cure is to hire a young stud of a pool boy....that seems to fix there so-called problem pretty well.

    May 24, 2010 at 15:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  38. dt

    I need to buy some.. so now the poor guy is gonna need viagra to keep up with his wife-

    May 24, 2010 at 15:14 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. SweetCheeks

    DrJustin the website you gave is spelled wrong. You may want to correct that!

    May 24, 2010 at 15:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. diane persaud

    It is surprising that it is only in America that people seems to need all these drugs, they keep the economy going.....maybe this will help other countries that are in dire ned of food, but by the way a report just said that there are 17 million children that go to bed hungry every night in America....is there any sense to all this?????

    May 24, 2010 at 15:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. TamarS

    leave our libido alone. at least half of women's problems are due to ridiculous religious training telling us it is "sinful" or wrong. if religious "leaders" would mind their own business women could enjoy the gift of sexuality that god gave each of us and man has routinely suppressed or otherwise tried to control – as if they know what's what.

    May 24, 2010 at 15:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. Dyan, Minnesota

    Michael, lack of interest is definately a "dealbreaker". Unless, of course, you're okay with being with someone who just puts up with the sex act out of a sense of duty or guilt.

    Your comment shows the common misunderstanding about women's sexual health. Men have an obvious, visual signal. But women don't. So if we suffer from a lack of sexual arousal, then it's assumed that the cause is in our heads.

    May 24, 2010 at 15:27 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. Michelle

    Unfortunately, there are going to be a lot of women who think a pill is the answer, when a lot of it is simply being exhausted from trying to do 100 things at once. It's hard to shut your mind down and relax at the end of the day when you've got work,kids, and everything else to deal with. It's a lot easier when you have a partner who will share the load and also realize that men and women are wired a bit differently, and it takes more than dropping our shorts sometimes to get things going. lol Yay for pills, but there's no substitute for a good partner and a little TLC. : )

    May 24, 2010 at 15:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. Mary

    This is absolutely wonderful to hear! I have been married for only fourteen years and we are already sleeping in separate rooms. The main reason is his snoring but I started using this as an excuse to not have sex. Physically, the desire is completely gone, but mentally I want things to be back to how they were in the beginning. I also went to two different doctors for advise and was told that the reason for this was anything from stress, age, health, not enough excercise, overworked etc. I'm glad they're doing something for us ladies. The separation can do more damage than people without this problem realize.

    May 24, 2010 at 15:32 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. insider info

    I know an employee at this company and he told me that they had to tone this stuff down. It initially worked immediately...So out of fear of it being used as a "date rape" drug they formulated it to build up slowly over time instead of take it and then the woman is super horny and can't control herself right then and there. Oh boy to be one of the guys near the initial test subjects...Too bad this company is privately held. It's stock would be exploding over this drugs release...

    May 24, 2010 at 15:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. rk

    Michael, lack of interest can indeed be a deal-breaker, especially over time...without adequate arousal, sex can be painful for women, and if this happens often enough, it becomes the expectation and can lead to a vicious circle, which can result in avoidance of sex, which itself can cause physical changes that can make sex all but impossible. If women can maintain or regain a healthy libido before this point, that's a good thing for them and for their relationship, and every bit as important as the man's ability to perform.

    May 24, 2010 at 15:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  47. cel

    go for it girls, it isn't a one sided deal. It's important for men that their ladies want good sex and that each one of us enjoys it as equally as possible.

    May 24, 2010 at 15:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. lauren

    this comment is for michael who said the following:
    Comparing E.D. in men to lack of interest in females, the only common denominator here is pharmacology. This article seems out of sync with the symptoms that cause men to seek meds. For women, lack of interest isn't exactly a "dealbreaker". For men lack of erection certainly is.
    i'm pretty sure that the symptom of lack of interest is a dealbreaker. if not, then it's rape at the most and a chore at the very least... seriously, a drug giving a dude an erection makes it possible for him to have sex, but a drug giving women the desire to is just as important.

    May 24, 2010 at 15:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. Chief

    What are the side-effects????????


    May 24, 2010 at 15:56 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. Joe S

    @ LSusitna – I am a husband and I do agree with you. BUT – I do ALL the chores (laundry, dinners,baby -bathing, clean up, vacuuming etc) – and it's still been a VERY VERY long time. Sadly she is uncomfortable with the subject (we NEVER discuss it as she gets defensive – even though I bring it up very lovingly) and I can only hope she discovers this on her own or through her MD

    May 24, 2010 at 15:57 | Report abuse | Reply
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