A: That name sounds like a volcano in Iceland, doesn’t it? In any case, it’s not really clear. For those of us who have seen how sexual interest can be switched off like a light bulb with an SSRI, this drug is very intriguing; it may be operating the other way around to kindle interest.
Q: Boehringer-Ingelheim says it intends to initially market flibanserin to pre-menopausal women. Why?
A: Probably because the drug was tested on them. The data are often clearer on younger women. Post-menopausal women are trickier, because they have specific hormonal issues to contend with as well. Once the drug is approved it may be used off-label in postmenopausal women.
Q: What effect do you think flibanserin will have on relationships?
A: I think women are going to take it more in the context of a long relationship than in a new relationship. People usually come in for treatment of low libido because they feel mismatched with their partner over time. This is more of a “bring-her-back-to-restore-the-harmony-in-our-relationship” kind of thing, and the drug may serve that purpose for some couples. If there’s a relationship problem that goes unaddressed, however, clearly the pill isn’t going to work, and you’d be treating the wrong thing.
Q: Flibanserin does not have a huge impact on sexual activity. Do you think it is still worth taking?
A: The size of the effect is very important. Drug researchers found that flibanserin added just one episode of sexual improvement per month. This is not huge. If couples are having sex once a week or more, the effect of the drug is unlikely to be a major factor in their sex lives, which is why it’s important that women understand how much this is likely to do for them. I think women are perfectly capable of doing the math for themselves. Once flibanserin is out there, women will need to know what they should expect.
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