The female answer to Viagra?
Washington - A drug that failed to fight the blues could be the female answer to the little blue pill Viagra, the lead North American investigator analysing tests of the drug said on Tuesday.
Women who took the drug flibanserin when it was being tested as an anti-depressant said it didn't help them beat the glums, but did give them "an increase in libido that they liked", John Thorp, one of the investigators analysing data from three clinical trials of the drug, told AFP.
Lack of desire is the most common sexual problem in women aged 30 to 60, just as erectile dysfunction, for which Viagra is one of a choice of treatments, is the most common sexual disorder among men in the same age bracket, Thorp said.
"Men remain interested but can't act or perform properly and women lose interest," said Thorp.
"So where Viagra and other erectile dysfunction medications work in the blood supply, flibanserin works in the brain," he said.
In the light of the women's reactions to flibanserin, the German drug company that had first tested the drug as a treatment for depression, Boehringer Ingelheim, several years ago began exploring the possibilities of it being the active ingredient in the female answer to Viagra.
Clinical trials were held in Canada, Europe and the United States to test the drug's efficacy in raising the level of sexual desire in women.
Nearly 2 000 pre-menopausal women were given flibanserin or a placebo for 24 weeks and asked to report back to researchers or make diary entries on six variables, including the number of satisfactory sexual encounters they had and their level of sexual desire.
The studies found that 100 milligrams a day of flibanserin resulted in "significant improvements" in the two variables.
Flibanserin is currently an investigational drug and is only available to women taking part in clinical trials.