Prepare yourself: When the new “pink Viagra” marketing blitz kicks off in June, instead of graying guys talking about sex between evening-news segments, you’re likely to see “mature” women.
The name of this new sex pill for postmenopausal women is Osphena, and while the market for it might not be as huge as Viagra’s is for men, the drug’s maker is banking that it will appeal to millions – especially after the company launches its “education” campaign about “dysparunia,” which Osphena is designed to treat.
But how many women really need Osphena, and how safe is it?
Writing in the Beast, Jennifer Block reports that there’s more hype than help behind the drug’s claims, plus some scary risks and several unpleasant side effects.(Full disclosure: Block is a contributing editor for Senior Planet.) In “Will This Pill fix Your Sex Life,” Block asks: In case you stopped following the back-and-forth on the risks and (questionable) benefits of HT, here’s a recap, courtesy of Block (read her story for a close look at the influence wielded by the drug companies around HT): Dyspareunia means pain before, during or after intercourse.It’s for real and can occur for many reasons, from not enough foreplay to infection.Osphena targets Dysparunia that’s caused by vulvovaginal atrophy, a condition in which the skin of the vulva and the lining of the vagina become thin, dry and inflamed because of a lack of estrogen.However, as Block points out, it’s kind of like gray hair and wrinkles: Most women have some of these changes as they age.
Like Female Sexual Dysfunction, she says, dyspareunia is an example of a new disorder designed to build a market for a drug.
Osphena isn’t estrogen; it just acts like one, and like estrogen-alone therapy, Osphena increases the risk of endometrial cancer.
Stroke and deep vein thrombosis are also risks of taking the drug, albeit low ones compared to estrogen-alone therapy, says the FDA.
These risks are detailed in a prominent black box warning on the drug.
Block also points out that some experts have questions about the clinical trials that led to Osphena’s approval: Block sees Osphena as the tip of an iceberg that may bring women testosterone gels and nasal sprays and antidepressants rebranded as libido enhancers.
The big question she concludes with is, “…will these treatments bring more pleasure to women or to the pharmaceutical industry?