Lust for mega-profits fuels drive for female viagra

By IANS
Tuesday, September 28, 2010

LONDON - Driven by the quest for mega-profits, drug firms seem to be fostering the myth that four in 10 women have low libido and fuel their drive for a female viagra, says a new book.

The book suggests that not only is the effectiveness of such treatments questionable but the claim that nearly half of all women have a problem is deliberately misleading and wildly exaggerated.

Worse, researchers and pharmaceutical companies are accused of ‘medicalising’ female sexual problems in order to sell drugs.

As leading health journalist Ray Moynihan puts it “it’s all part of their drive to ‘expand the patient pool’ by ‘creating markets for lifestyle drugs’ for both men and women”, reports the Daily Mail.

“Companies no longer just sell drugs, increasingly they create a disease like female sexual dysfunction and then spend a fortune ‘educating’ doctors to prescribe strong drugs to women that they don’t need and that are unlikely to help them,” says Moynihan in his book “Sex, Lies And Pharmaceuticals: How Drug Companies Are ¬≠Bankrolling The Next Big ¬≠Condition For Women”.

Furthermore, these drugs, which are marginally effective at best, come with a nasty raft of side-effects.

These include nausea, dizziness and a raised risk of heart disease. One drug, currently applying for a licence, can even cause depression and loss of consciousness.

Moynihan reserves particular ire for the claim that 43 percent of woman suffer from a sexual problem, calling it “one of the most pervasive medical myths, as extreme as it is absurd”.

This figure is important because drug companies frequently use it to indicate the scale of the problem they are trying to treat.

The faulty figure dates back to more than 10 years to a survey published by the Journal of the American Medical Association.

The study gave a long questionnaire to 3,000 Americans with the aim of finding out more about their sexual habits to fight the spread of AIDS.

The questionnaire asked women if they had ever suffered any difficulties with sex, such as lack of interest in sex, anxiety about performance or pain for more than a few months over the previous year.

Any woman who answered yes to just one of the questions was classified as suffering from sexual dysfunction.

“There was no attempt to determine how serious the problem had been or if the women had been distressed by it,” says Moynihan.

Even the author of the study says the figure has been wrongly used.

“There’s a lack of understanding of what really drives these numbers,” Ed Laumann, professor of sociology at Chicago University, told Moynihan.

“What drives them is stress, physical and social stress, exhaustion and not being in a relationship with somebody you care about so you are not sexually interested. In other words, their sex problems were not about mechanics - unlike male impotence,” Laumann added.

Filed under: Drugs, Medicine, World

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