- The Washington Times - Friday, January 22, 2010

How does it feel for a married woman to have low sexual desire? “It’s terrible,” says Kim, a California woman who has been treated for hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD).

What’s worse, though, is having doctors say that having no interest in sex is not a big deal.

“Quit whining.” “A lot of women don’t have a big sex drive.” “You could have a lot worse things wrong.” All are all comments Kim (who asked that her full name not be used) has heard from doctors when she sought help for her utter and persistent lack of interest in sex.

Women like Kim are the potential client base of a product now under development by German drug maker Boehringer Ingelheim.

The new product, known as flibanserin, would be the first of its kind to help women who suffer from little or no sexual desire, said Dr. Irwin Goldstein, director of the Sexual Medicine Program at Alvarado Hospital in San Diego and a consultant to Boehringer Ingelheim.

Men have several products available to them for sexual dysfunction, but there is “not a thing available for women,” said Dr. Goldstein.

A drug like flibanserin “has the opportunity to change the history … of women’s health and, specifically, women’s sexual health,” he added.

In November, Boehringer Ingelheim presented the results of a 24-week, phase III clinical trial with 1,378 premenopausal women with HSDD. The women either took a daily dose of flibanserin or a placebo.

The flibanserin women had more sexually satisfying events per month (2.8 at baseline to 4.5 at study end), compared to placebo women (2.7 at baseline, increasing to 3.7 at study end).

Flibanserin was also shown to significantly increase women’s sexual desire and reduce their distress over sexual issues.

Flibanserin was discovered when researchers were studying a fast-acting antidepressant. While most antidepressants reduce people’s libido, this compound increased it.

The next step for flibanserin is a review by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. No “public disclosures” have been made about a new drug application for flibanserin, a spokeswoman for Boehringer Ingelheim said.

However, Dr. Goldstein noted, the company was pleased with the trial outcomes.

Dr. Goldstein is no stranger to innovations in sexual health. Last year, he received the Gold Medal award from the World Association for Sexual Health in recognition of his lifetime contributions to the field, which include helping Pfizer develop Viagra in the 1990s. Viagra brings in about $2 billion in revenue worldwide, according to Pfizer.

A product for women’s sexual dysfunction has been sought as well, as about one in 10 women are believed to struggle with low sexual desire.

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