Promising to stoke female desire, new drug Addyi will come with serious warning

Like that popular blue pill Viagra, this new pink pill aims to treat sexual dysfunction. But unlike Viagra and Cialis, the newly FDA-approved Addyi aims to treat women who aren't interested in sex by gradually adjusting brain chemistry. Judy Woodruff reports on the serious warnings that come along with the new medication.

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    The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved the first ever prescription drug to treat women suffering from a lack of sexual desire. The overnight announcement came on the heels of a long and contentious debate on whether to bring the drug to market.

    The small pink pill known as Addyi aims to treat a low or absent desire for sex, medically termed hypoactive sexual desire disorder, or HSDD. It's the most common sexual dysfunction in women.

  • CINDY WHITEHEAD, CEO, Sprout Pharmaceuticals:

    We looked to the evidence, and we listened to patients. And what we know is that one in 10 women suffer from HSDD.


    Maker Sprout Pharmaceuticals welcomed FDA approval last night at company offices in Raleigh, North Carolina.


    And we have always believed that, provided the FDA finds a treatment to be safe and effective, women deserve to make that choice with their health care provider.


    For years, Viagra, Cialis and other drugs for men have dominated the market. They increase blood flow and are designed to be taken shortly before sex.

    By contrast, Addyi works by gradually adjusting levels of serotonin and dopamine in the brain, chemicals that affect sexual desire. It must be taken daily for weeks to see any benefit. And even then, women may see only modest improvement. The newly approved medication will also come with the most serious warning allowed.


    All drugs have risks, and we want to appropriately inform consumers of risks. So we do have a black box warning. It's related to low blood pressure and/or fainting with alcohol use.


    The FDA twice rejected Addyi in the past, pointing to side effects and marginal effectiveness. But now the female libido pill will hit the market in mid-October.

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