Selling One Pill to Treat Side Effects of Another Pill

by MARTHA ROSENBERG

Nearly one in four US women is on antidepressants. The drugs, like Prozac, Paxil and Zoloft, may be happy pills but they are not happy-in-the-bedroom pills. Both older and newer antidepressants cause severe sexual dysfunction like diminished libido and anorgasmia, the inability to achieve orgasm, even with adequate stimulation.

Antidepressant sexual dysfunction is so common, it is used as a sales pitch by the drug manufacturers. “Wellbutrin X works for my depression with a low risk of weight gain and sexual side effects,” say glossy magazine ads showing young men whose sexuality is intact thanks to a better antidepressant. “Can your medicine do all that?” One study found 96 percent patients on a particular antidepressant developed anorgasmia. Who likes those statistics?

Now, marketers of two new sex drugs for women are acknowledging how many women are actually on antidepressants. A Dutch company developing the female libido drugs, Lybrido and Lybridos (which are not yet FDA approved or available) believes the drugs may help the antidepressant-related sexual problems, according to an article in the New York Times magazine. Lybrido contains two possible libido enhancers for women, testosterone and sildenafil, the active ingredient in Viagra. But Lybridos contains testosterone and the antidepressant buspirone, a drug already on the market and known to reverse the negative sexual side effects of antidepressants in some cases by modifying changed levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin that cause the sexual dysfunction.

Buspirone is similar to a “female Viagra” drug that almost reached the market a few years ago. Flibanserin, made by the German company Boehringer Ingelheim, was intended to treat “hypoactive sexual desire disorder” in women but rejected by the FDA. Flibanserin was similar to the antidepressant Serzone which is linked to hyper sexual arousal and the abnormal and painful erectile state known as priapism. Serzone has been withdrawn from markets.

Like Viagra (which had been intended to be an angina drug until its erectile effects appeared) flibanserin, the drug rejected three years ago, was groomed to be an antidepressant drug until its effect on female sexual desire surfaced. Some trial participants did not want to surrender their unused pills at the end of the study. But, despite medical and media excitement about flibanserin and pleas from Big Pharma, Wall Street, husbands, boyfriends and women, the FDA rejected flibanserin in 2010–not for its side effects like dizziness, nausea and sleepiness but because it didn’t seem to work.

Thanks to Big Pharma marketing, Americans increasingly seek a quick fix for “depression,” “sexual dysfunction” and other lifestyle problems. Before direct to consumer marketing of antidepressants, people did not expect to be deliriously happy for no reason or term their problems with marriages and relationships, jobs, health and money, “depression.” Medicalizing lifestyle problems is a cash cow for Big Pharma because advertising works.

Of course, there is no assurance that Lybrido and Lybridos will be approved by the FDA or gain acceptance among doctors and women. But if they do, Big Pharma’s audacious business model of selling one expensive pill to treat side effects of another expensive pill will surely please Wall Street.

Martha Rosenberg is an investigative health reporter. She is the author of  Born With A Junk Food Deficiency: How Flaks, Quacks and Hacks Pimp The Public Health (Prometheus).

 

Martha Rosenberg is an investigative health reporter. She is the author of  Born With A Junk Food Deficiency: How Flaks, Quacks and Hacks Pimp The Public Health (Prometheus).

Like What You’ve Read? Support CounterPunch
August 03, 2015
Joseph Mangano – Janette D. Sherman
The Atomic Era Turns 70, as Nuclear Hazards Endure
Nelson Valdes
An Internet Legend: the Pope, Fidel and the Black President
Robert Hunziker
The Perfectly Nasty Ocean Storm
Jack Dresser
The Case of Alison Weir: Two Palestinian Solidarity Organizations Borrow from Joe McCarthy’s Playbook
Ahmad Moussa
Incinerating Palestinian Children
Greg Felton
Greece Succumbs to Imperialist Banksterism
Binoy Kampmark
Stalling the Trans-Pacific Partnership: the Failure of the Hawai’i Talks
Ted Rall
My Letter to Nick Goldberg of the LA Times
Mark Weisbrot
New Greek Bailout Increases the Possibility of Grexit
Jose Martinez
Black/Hispanic/Women: a Leadership Crisis
Victor Grossman
German Know-Nothings Today
Patrick Walker
We’re Not Sandernistas: Reinventing the Wheels of Bernie’s Bandwagon
Norman Pollack
Moral Consequences of War: America’s Hegemonic Thirst
Ralph Nader
Republicans Support Massive Tax Evasion by Starving IRS Budget
Alexander Reid Ross
Colonial Pride and the Killing of Cecil the Lion
Suhayb Ahmed
What’s Happening in Britain: Jeremy Corbyn and the Future of the Labour Party
Weekend Edition
July 31-33, 2015
Jeffrey St. Clair
Bernie and the Sandernistas: Into the Void
John Pilger
Julian Assange: the Untold Story of an Epic Struggle for Justice
Roberto J. González – David Price
Remaking the Human Terrain: The US Military’s Continuing Quest to Commandeer Culture
Lawrence Ware
Bernie Sanders’ Race Problem
Andrew Levine
The Logic of Illlogic: Narrow Self-Interest Keeps Israel’s “Existential Threats” Alive
ANDRE VLTCHEK
Kos, Bodrum, Desperate Refugees and a Dying Child
Paul Street
“That’s Politics”: the Sandernistas on the Master’s Schedule
Ted Rall
How the LAPD Conspired to Get Me Fired from the LA Times
Mike Whitney
Power-Mad Erdogan Launches War in Attempt to Become Turkey’s Supreme Leader
Ellen Brown
The Greek Coup: Liquidity as a Weapon of Coercion
Stephen Lendman
Russia Challenges America’s Orwellian NED
Will Parrish
The Politics of California’s Water System
John Wight
The Murder of Ali Saad Dawabsha, a Palestinian Infant Burned Alive by Israeli Terrorists
Jeffrey Blankfort
Leading Bibi’s Army in the War for Washington
Mary Lou Singleton
Gender, Patriarchy, and All That Jazz
Robert Fantina
Israeli Missteps Take a Toll
Pete Dolack
Speculators Circling Puerto Rico Latest Mode of Colonialism
Ron Jacobs
Spying on Black Writers: the FB Eye Blues
Paul Buhle
The Leftwing Seventies?
Binoy Kampmark
The TPP Trade Deal: of Sovereignty and Secrecy
David Swanson
Vietnam, Fifty Years After Defeating the US
Robert Hunziker
Human-Made Evolution
Shamus Cooke
Why Obama’s “Safe Zone” in Syria Will Inflame the War Zone
David Rosen
Hillary Clinton: Learn From Your Sisters
Sam Husseini
How #AllLivesMatter and #BlackLivesMatter Can Devalue Life
Shepherd Bliss
Why I Support Bernie Sanders for President
Howard Lisnoff
The Wrong Argument
Louis Proyect
Manufacturing Denial
Tracey Harris
Living Tiny: a Richer and More Sustainable Future