MIAMI (CBSMiami) — It’s something that men have had access to for years, but women have never had an approved drug to enhance their sex lives. While that could be changing, critics said there’s still a double standard.
You can’t turn on the television these days without being inundated with ads for sexual performance drugs that are all for men, because there are none for women.
“I feel like we deserve to have the same thing for women…absolutely,” said Amanda Parrish. “I don’t think that’s fair.”
Doctors diagnosed Parrish with Hypo Active Sexual Desire Disorder (HSDD), a low sex drive.
“It got to where I’d be one of those women who would try to maybe be asleep before he got to bed,” said Parrish.
But Parrish took part in a clinical trial for a drug called Flibanserin, the so called little pink pill, designed to do for women what Viagra does for men.
“It was just a light switch in my head that been turned off and once it got turned on things were fine,” said Parrish.
The drug maker, sprout, said 45 percent of women who took the drug experienced increased desire. That’s slightly more than the 35 percent who took a placebo.
But it’s not enough for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). They’ve rejected it twice, concluding the benefits did not outweigh the side effects, like sleepiness, dizziness, and nausea.
“We’re not talking about significant, life threatening side effects,” said Dr. Bat Shava Marcus.
Doctor Marcus, who treats women with sexual dysfunction, disagrees with the FDA and said the benefits do outweigh the risks.
“Women are smart consumers. They’re not going to use it if the side effects are miserable,” said Doctor Marcus.
And men using sexual performance drugs have experienced even more serious side effects including sudden vision loss, and a dangerous drop in blood pressure if combined with certain other drugs.
Still, some said the FDA is right to be cautious.
“I don’t think it’s completely unreasonable that we have a high bar for safety when we are looking at drugs for low libido for men or women,” said Dr. Jan Shifren with Massachusetts General Hospital.
Right now, the manufacturer is again asking for FDA approval and Parrish hopes the third time is the charm.
Doctors said 90 percent of the libido is from the neck up and that’s how the little pink pill works. It increases the sex drive by altering chemicals in the brain.
The FDA should announce a decision this summer.