The Food and Drug Administration approved a controversial drug meant to increase women’s desire for sex, a treatment that has rekindled a debate over the limits of medicine when it comes to human sexuality.
The drug, called Vyleesi, is an under-the-skin injection women take before sex. It’s approved for women with hypoactive sexual desire disorder, or HSDD, which is defined as a distressing loss of interest in sex.
Vyleesi’s demonstrated increases in reported desire, measured on a five-point scale, are small. But AMAG Pharmaceuticals, the drug’s manufacturer, contends that even a seemingly marginal improvement can make a major difference for women with HSDD.
Skeptics of drugs like Vyleesi balk at the idea of a pharmaceutical product playing a role in sexual desire. To them, prescribing a drug for HSDD misguidedly reduces the complexity of human sexuality to a biological issue.
AMAG has spent the past few months trying to spread the word about HSDD ahead of Vyleesi’s approval, launching informational websites targeting patients and providers. The condition is the most common sexual dysfunction affecting women, but many patients and doctors are unaware of HSDD, much less any treatment for it, according to the company.
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