Our Pledge To You

News

Doctors already hearing from women wanting new libido pill Addyi

Even though Addyi won’t be available for nearly two months, Chicago doctors say they already are getting calls from patients interested in getting the new “pink Viagra” pill approved last week to treat low libido in women.

“A day doesn’t go by that I don’t get 10 requests” for Addyi, the first such drug approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, says Dr. Lauren Streicher, a Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine obstetrician and gynecologist.

Streicher, who specializes in female sexual dysfunction, praised the drug even before its approval in her book “Sex Rx.” She says many of her patients have read the book and come to her asking for the drug, whose generic name is flibanserin.

She and other Chicago gynecologists say they expect interest to grow as the pill’s Oct. 17 availability draws closer.

Dr. Jessica Shepherd, an obstetrician and gynecologist at the University of Illinois at Chicago, says about 10 percent of her patients have generalized hypoactive sexual desire disorder, and many are asking about Addyi.

“I definitely think they are very open to wanting to try that and seeing if it is something that will work for them,” Shepherd says.

Advocates for Addyi say attention to women’s sexual dysfunction is overdue, while critics say the FDA’s approval process was sped up for the drug because of pressure from women.

The FDA will require a warning about the potential for low blood pressure and fainting when the pill is combined with alcohol.

Streicher says the warning applies mainly to binge drinkers.

“I’m going to say to my patients, ‘If you are going to have a couple glasses of wine, fine. More than that, don’t take your dose that night,’ ” she says.

Dr. Lauren Streicher

Dr. Lauren Streicher

“It’s not for everybody,” Streicher says. “Everyone thinks this is a cure-all. It’s for a very specific population of women who will benefit.”

The drug is approved only for premenopausal women, though Streicher says she expects to also prescribe it in certain cases for so-called “off-label use” by postmenopausal patients.

Shepherd says her patients who have had problems with libido for years won’t be deterred by Addyi’s warning against alcohol.

“When they look at the risk versus the benefit … I don’t think they’ll have a problem not drinking alcohol,” Shepherd says. “There are a lot of critics, but, again, every medication has side-effects.”

Dr. Mary Lynn, an OB/GYN and co-director of Loyola Medical Center’s Sexual Wellness Clinic, says she hasn’t heard from any patients interested in Addyi. She says she probably won’t won’t prescribe it before suggesting some lifestyle changes first.

“With almost any treatment we do, we usually will try some specific things in the lifestyle,” says Lynn, whose clinic also iuses yoga, nutrition and counseling to help women with sexual dysfunction.

It isn’t clear yet whether insurers will cover itthe drug Lynn says some insurers aren’t willing to cover things like estrogen vaginal cream, which is also used to treat certain types of sexual dysfunction.

Still, she’s excited about its potential.

“It’s landmark that this medication has even been approved,” Lynn says. “It’s a big step for women’s health. It’s incredible this has happened.”