NPR logo German Drugmaker Abandons Experimental 'Female Viagra'

Health Inc.

German Drugmaker Abandons Experimental 'Female Viagra'

Well, at least we don't have to spend anymore time learning how to pronounce "flibanserin."

Boehringer Ingelheim, a German drugmaker, pulled the plug on flibanserin, an experimental drug being tested as a treatment for women with low libidos.

But the drug, originally developed as an antidepressant, got poor reviews from an expert panel and the staff at the Food and Drug Administration this summer.

Women taking the drug only had about one more satisfying sexual event each month than those taking a sugar pill. And there were side effects, including dizziness, nausea and fatigue.

The company claims up to 10 percent of premenopausal women suffer from Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder or HSDD. Whoa. What's that?  Try, a "persistent lack of sexual desire accompanied by significant distress," according to the company.

In August, the FDA laid out in a letter to the company was its application for approval of the medicine was lacking. Boehringer Ingelheim said getting answers to those questions would be so much work, it would hurt the prospects of other medicines in the pipeline.

The decision to kill flibanserin wasn't taken lightly, said Andreas Barner, chairman of the board, in a statement. "We remain convinced of the positive benefit-risk ratio of flibanserin for women suffering with HSDD."

Article continues after sponsorship

Indeed, the company says it will finish the two clinical studies that are furthest along as a way to further the understanding of the condition and its treatment.