By Ray Moynihan and Barbara Mintzes
COMMON GROUND MAGAZINE
At first I thought it was great but now I’m worried that…he might be getting reliant on it…and in some ways, you know, I don’t even like thinking about that, cause it’s like ‘God, does someone have to take a pill to have sex with me?’ ~ 33-year-old woman whose partner took Viagra.
During the last year or so, has there been a period of several months or more when you lacked interest in having sex?
When you felt anxious about your sexual performance or were unable to achieve an orgasm?
Was there an extended time when you had trouble getting aroused, experienced pain on intercourse or just didn’t find sex pleasurable?
‘With more than 50 million potential sufferers in the United States, FSD could offer a larger market than male sexual dysfunction,’ wrote a pair of enthusiastic market observers.
‘FSD could be the next boon for pharma companies . . .’
Three global corporations in particular have been at the forefront of the race to spread the word about this new medical condition and get their drugs approved to treat it.
Pfizer, the biggest pharmaceutical company in the world and currently worth well in excess of $100 billion, has had high hopes that its wonder drug for men, Viagra, will also work for women.
Procter and Gamble, with global annual sales of almost $80 billion, is famous for selling soap to housewives, but it also wanted to sell them testosterone patches as well.
The third corporation featuring in this drama is the family-owned German outfit Boehringer, which boasts just over forty thousand employees and has affiliated companies in almost 50 countries. The German company’s pill targets the brain, with claims it can give women back their lost desire.
If Pfizer is promoting a drug that enhances blood flow to the genitals, then the condition might best be described as an ‘insufficiency’ of vaginal engorgement.
(However, Pfizer's research showed that genital blood flow increased in Viagra-treated women as they watched erotic videos, but the arousal did not make them desire sex.)
If Procter and Gamble is pushing its testosterone patch as a cure for women, the sexual disorder is discussed as a ‘deficiency’ of hormones.
And if Boehringer has a pill that affects the mind’s neurotransmitters, women with low libido may have a ‘chemical imbalance’ in their brains.
In a strange way, the disease seems designed to fit the drug. But there is also a deliberate attempt to portray common difficulties as if they’re symptoms of a medical disorder.
have explosive sex all the time,
BigPharma helped launch ‘female sexual dysfunction’
The days when the treatment of sex problems was dominated by the idea that therapy could render sexual inadequacy obsolete were quickly forgotten, swept away in a collective enthusiasm for new panaceas to treat this new dysfunction, and the billions that might flow from it.
Amid images of a woman’s flashbacks to romantic moments, a television commercial’s voice-over asked: ‘In the mood for something different? How about Levitra? Ask your doctor if Levitra is right for you. It’s the best way to experience that difference.’ The approach must have worked. For this class of medicines, the drug companies were soon spending far more on these advertisements than they were spending on sending sales representatives to visit doctors. Normally, it’s the other way round.
This focus on advertising to the public as a key promotional tool is very closely linked to how the condition of erectile dysfunction, or ED, has been expanded far beyond earlier definitions of male impotence. Inflated estimates of how many men suffer from the condition have subtly been mixed with suggestions that any degree of inability to have an erection, at any time, is too much.
From the book Sex, Lies and Pharmaceuticals: How Drug Companies Plan to Profit from Female Sexual Dysfunction. © 2010, by Ray Moynihan and Barbara Mintzes. Published by Greystone Books, an imprint of D and M Publishers Inc.. Reprinted with permission of the publisher.