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The “It” drug was Addyi, Sprout Pharmaceutical’s answer to low libido in women, approved by the FDA last August and now in the news for its low sales and for turning out to be a bit of a dud, effectiveness-wise. A meta-analysis in April’s JAMA Internal Medicine looked at previously unpublished clinical trials, along with those reviewed by the FDA, and found that Addyi works more like a roofie than a love potion, more than earning its black-box warning for causing dizziness, drowsiness, nausea, and, when mixed with alcohol, unconsciousness. All this for just half an extra “sexually satisfying event” per month (an industry term that includes everything from actual sex to a randy thought).

None of these questions about Addyi’s effectiveness were hidden during the FDA approval process — it had already been rejected twice. Nonetheless, bringing this drug to market seemed so important a year ago that several well-respected health and women’s groups rallied around it as part of theEven the Score campaign, a supposedly grassroots effort to expose gender bias at the FDA as the root of the disparity in treatment options — men have Viagra and several other sex boosters to choose from, they argued, while women have none (there actually are FDA-approved treatments for vaginal pain and sexual-arousal problems). When Addyi was approved, organizers called it a win for sexual parity, but some suspected they had been manipulated to score one for Big Pharma, and that troubling changes at the FDA had played a role.

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New York Magazine

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