The US Food and Drug Administration approved a drug to return sexual desire to some women with low libido.
The drug, bremelanotide, will be sold under the brand name Vyleesi by AMAG Pharmaceuticals. With intention to treat women who are premenopausal and have hypoactive sexual desire disorder, Vylees is an injection to be taken before sex. It will be available in September. The company declined to release price information. Vyleesi acts on receptors for a brain-stimulating hormone called melanocortin, which is associated with sexual arousal and appetite in both men and women.
"The impact of sexual dysfunction on a woman's self-esteem, on her body image, on her self-confidence and on her relationship is profound," said Sheryl Kingsberg, division chief of Behavioral Medicine at University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center. Sexual dysfunction among women is estimated to affect between 8% to 10% of women. Some considered the drug as a "female Viagra," but Viagra acts on blood vessels and bremelanotide acts on brain receptors. The most common side effects of Vyleesi are nausea, headache and flushing. However "the benefit outweighed the tolerability issue." Women with high blood pressure or heart disease should not take the drug because increases in blood pressure were observed after injections, the FDA said. Cynthia Pearson, executive director of the National Women’s Health Network, urged women to avoid using the drug “until more is known about its safety and effectiveness.”