A study of the new prescription drug for the treatment of hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD) in women suggests that the potential serious side effects may far outweigh any benefit. Sometimes touted as the “female Viagra”, from the moment Addyi (flibanserin) was was approved by the FDA in August, 2015, it stirred up controversy among doctors and patients.
Unlike Viagra which increases blood flow to the penis so that men unable to have erections can do so, Addyi alters brain chemistry in women supposedly increasing their desire to have sex. Viagra is taken on an “as needed” basis, Addyi must be taken every day for an undetermined amount of time to be effective.
The new study published in the medical journal JAMA is the first systematic review of Addyi. Researchers looked at eight separate studies (five published and three unpublished) which included 600 women with reduced libido as defined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. They analyzed both positive outcomes in terms of sexual satisfaction and adverse events.
Results indicated that Addyi produced minimal improvement in libido, with little difference between the drug and placebo. On the other hand, side effects included a serious drop in blood pressure, dizziness, fainting, nausea, fatigue and sleepiness. These negative effects were exacerbated by alcohol as well as the concurrent use of oral contraceptives and certain drugs including antiepileptics, fluconazole (treatment for yeast infection), benzodiazepines, antidepressants, antipsychotics, mood stabilizers, narcotics, and even St. John’s wort.
The study authors concluded that doctors need to weigh the minimal benefits of this drug with its potential side effects, They also recommended that future studies include more women from diverse populations.