In this case the usual lobbying by a manufacturer in search of fat profits was supported by a coalition of women's groups who call themselves Even the Score:
which accused the F.D.A. of gender bias because it had approved Viagra and other drugs to help men have sex while leaving women without options. The participants in the campaign had been brought together by a consultant to Sprout Pharmaceuticals, the developer of flibanserin.I think this is crazy. Viagra treats a physical inability to have sex, not a lack of desire; without desire it makes no sense to take Viagra. Women's desire for sex is, as all men of my generation have been hearing since we were 16, a hugely complicated thing all wrapped up with emotions and relationships and so on. I suppose the point is that many women have lost desire even when all the things that used to make them hot are there, which implies some sort of physiological factor. Maybe. But if that is true, flibanserin isn't the cure, since as I said it performs only a little better than placebos in the biggest trials.
The positive way to spin the FDA panel's decision would be like this:
The unmet need seems to be so strong that even for a drug with rather modest benefit, I think approving the product with strong limitations seems to be the right step at this point.But you could also wonder why we are always looking to drugs to solve our problems, and why we are always blaming complex physiological or technical problems on Bad People -- we don't have a male pill because of sexism! we don't have affordable electric cars because of oil companies! If any company came up with a drug that would make women want and enjoy sex, they would earn billions overnight; since no such drug exists despite the huge incentives, this must be a very hard problem. Lobbying and wishful thinking will not solve it.