Our Bodies, Our Blog

False or Misleading Claims: More Problems with Addyi

By Guest Contributor |
addyi prescription

by Marshall Miller and Dorian Solot

The so-called “pink Viagra” drug Addyi (flibanserin) is in the news again. This time, Sprout Pharmaceuticals, the drug’s manufacturer, is being called out by the FDA for making “false or misleading claims about the risks associated with Addyi.”

OBOS has previously written about how the health risks of the drug outweigh its benefits. The FDA approved Addyi in 2015, after Sprout Pharmaceuticals, the drug’s manufacturer, engaged in an aggressive marketing campaign designed to convince people that it was only fair that if men had an erectile dysfunction drug, women should have a drug to call their own. (The campaign was less successful with the general public: sales of the drug have been considerably below expectations.)

This past year, Sprout has been at it again, this time with a radio advertising blitz telling listeners that Addyi is “an FDA-approved pill for women frustrated by their low libido.” Not so, says the FDA, in their official warning letter to Sprout.

More accurately, the FDA says, Addyi is approved for women “who have not had problems with low sexual desire in the past, and who have low sexual desire no matter the type of sexual activity, the situation, or the sexual partner. Women with HSDD [Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder] have low sexual desire that is troubling to them. Their low sexual desire is not due to:

  • a medical or mental health problem
  • problems in the relationship
  • medicine or other drug use”

In other words, before taking a drug that can have serious side effects, it’s important to rule out other causes for low desire, including relationship problems, medical issues, and medication side effects. In addition, many women lack education and knowledge about women’s sexuality and what they need to experience sexual pleasure and orgasm. For these women, exploring their bodies and reading “Our Bodies, Ourselves” may be more helpful than Addyi!

The FDA also reprimanded Sprout for failing to “provide material information about the consequences that may result from the use of the drug” and creating “a misleading impression about the drug’s safety.” This includes neglecting to inform users that taking the drug after drinking alcohol or taking certain prescriptions increases the risk of low blood pressure and fainting. “This is particularly concerning from a public health perspective due to the serious risks associated with the drug,” the FDA wrote.

The FDA instructed Sprout to either pull the ads or pull the drug. It remains to be seen what will be the next chapter in the story of Addyi, one that’s captured the attention of feminist health advocates for failing to deliver in so many ways, despite its grand promises to help women. The Journal of the American Medical Association summarized eight studies on the drug, which included nearly 6000 total participants total, and concluded: “Treatment with flibanserin [Addyi], on average, resulted in one-half additional SSE [sexually satisfying event] per month while statistically and clinically significantly increasing the risk of dizziness, somnolence, nausea, and fatigue.”

To be clear: That’s one additional sexually satisfying event every two months on average! If that’s the goal, there are much easier, side-effect free ways to get there and get off. But you’re not going to learn that from Sprout’s radio ads.

Marshall Miller and Dorian Solot are sex educators and the authors of “I Love Female Orgasm: An Extraordinary Orgasm Guide.”

Persistent and Pervasive: Feminists Take on Toxics

By Judy Norsigian |

For a variety of reasons, including gendered work and home experiences, women face different environmental health risks than men. Women are more likely to use personal care products, cosmetics, and cleaning products, and therefore more likely to face daily exposure to the toxic chemicals in many consumer products. As awareness of toxic chemicals has increased, feminist scientists and activists are drawing attention to the real adverse health risks they pose and have mobilized to work toward creative and radical solutions.

Sally Edwards, an environmental health scientist, … More

Diana Abwoye receiving an award for academic excellence in her Family Nurse Practitioner program.Diana Abwoye receiving an award for academic excellence in her Family Nurse Practitioner program.

Addressing Institutional Racism & Health Inequality: My Perspective

By Guest Contributor |

by Diana Namumbejja Abwoye

Diana Namumbejja Abwoye is a family nurse practitioner and a member of the Board of Directors of Our Bodies Ourselves who translated and adapted “Our Bodies, Ourselves” into Luganda.

Covid-19 has affected all aspects of our lives. It has exposed how much the United States is an unequal place for people of color. I will speak here from my own experience. It may not be a reflection of all people of color, but I hope it will help us get the … More

Adapting “Our Bodies, Ourselves” to Brazilian Portuguese: The Translators’ Experiences

By OBOS |

“[H]aving the opportunity of translating … “Our Bodies, Ourselves” to Brazilian Portuguese … brings me a profound sense of accomplishment, since there is not such a complete book on women’s health in Portuguese with so much information and so many references…. When we translate, we must consider the cultural identity of the women we are talking to, the means of reaching them, which information they need to have safer and more conscient lives. Each translation choice is also a political choice, inspired by reflections on … More

My Body, My Choice: Aesthetic Flat Closure after Mastectomy

By Guest Contributor |

by Kim Bowles

In 2016, I was diagnosed with breast cancer and underwent a double mastectomy. After careful consideration and lots of research, I decided against getting breast implants or other conventional reconstructive surgery, because I wanted to get back to my normal life as quickly as possible. I told my surgeon that I wanted to “go flat” and put my request in writing, providing him photos of the kind of flat chest I was hoping for. 

When I woke up from surgery, I was horrified … More

Women with Breast Implants Should Not Need to Wait for Safety Information They Urgently Need

By Guest Contributor |

by Rose Weitz and Diana Zuckerman

Although breast implants have been sold since the 1960s, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) first approved the use of silicone gel breast implants in 2006. By then, many women with implants had already reported a range of problems, which result in many women seeking additional surgery within just a few years of implantation. 

And the problems have become more serious. Last year, for example, Allergan did a worldwide recall of their textured Biocell breast implants and … More

Free the Pill!

By Guest Contributor |

by Carrie Baker

Sixty years ago this month, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the birth control pill for distribution in the United States — a game changer for women’s lives. Before approval of the pill, most women were married by age 19, and more than half of them were pregnant within the first seven months.

Once the pill became available, women for the first time in history had a reliable form of contraception that freed them from the unrelenting fear of unwanted pregnancies. With a … More

group shot of young reproductive justice advocatesgroup shot of young reproductive justice advocates

Please Support Civil Liberties and Public Policy During the Covid-19 Crisis: An Appeal from Judy Norsigian

By Judy Norsigian |

These challenging times require fierce, broad, and intersectional activism – which is just what Civil Liberties and Public Policy (CLPP) has been doing for the past four decades. This now-independent nonprofit, which used to be affiliated with Hampshire College, continues its unique movement-building work preparing younger activists to work on the front lines of today’s struggle for reproductive justice. Please consider supporting CLPP today with a generous donation. 

As we know, the Covid-19 pandemic is disproportionately harming those in our communities who were already facing … More

photo of quote from Barbara Seamanphoto of quote from Barbara Seaman

Our Doctors, Ourselves: Barbara Seaman and Popular Health Feminism in the 1970s

By OBOS |

“If the plastic speculum was the tool of choice for self-help advocates, leading women to a better understanding of their own bodies, then the popular media was Barbara Seaman’s preferred weapon in the cultural battle against medical sexism.”
— Kelly O’Donnell, in her article “Our Doctors, Ourselves: Barbara Seaman and Popular Health Feminism in the 1970s”

Barbara Seaman, a popular journalist in the 1960s and 70s who wrote for magazines including Brides, Ms., Ladies Home Journal, and Family Circle, was one of the first journalists to … More