(NaturalNews) The pharmaceutical industry is in the midst of a major push to secure FDA approval for drugs to treat "female sexual dysfunction," including a public relations campaign to convince women that the condition is real in the first place.
"This is really a classic case of disease branding," said Adriane Fugh-Berman of Georgetown University, who studies drug marketing. "The messages are aimed at medicalizing normal conditions, and also preying on the insecurity of both the clinician and the patient."
Fugh-Berman's comments refer to a major ad campaign by drug company Boehringer Ingelheim, which is seeking FDA approval for a drug to treat low female libido. If approved, the daily pill would be the first drug in the United States designed to treat low sexual desire in premenopausal women.
An FDA staff report and advisory panel have both advised against approving the drug, concluding that the company has not proved its effectiveness. Although the FDA is not required to follow such recommendations, it usually does.
Boehringer Ingelheim's ad campaign has included a Web site, Twitter feed, Discovery Channel documentary and speaking tour by actress and former Playboy model Lisa Rinna. The company has also sponsored "educational" classes about the condition for medical professionals.
But experts warn that while many women may occasionally suffer from periods of low libido, this may not be a medical condition that should be treated with drugs. They point out that studies alleging high rates of "female sexual dysfunction" (such as one in 10 women) have been funded by drug companies.
New York University researcher Leonore Tiefer, who studies female sexual desire, warned that if such drugs are approved, "the much larger group of women without any medical reason for their sexual distress will inevitably be misinformed and misled into thinking that there is a pill that can get them the sex life they read about, the one they think everyone else is having."