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Lord Happy Toast

Low sexual desire is not a disease. Stop FDA approval of Flibanserin.

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Lord Happy Toast

The New View Campaign has created a petition that they're encouraging people to sign:

Please go to Change.org and look for the Low Sexual Desire petition and sign it and circulate it to others. ASAP, please. We will take these petitions to the June 18 Flibanserin hearing.

This is a matter that I think people in the asexual community should be VERY concerned about, and I strongly encorage people to sign the petition. If this drug is approved, expect massive "educational" campaigns telling people just how distressing not being interested in sex is.

The text of the petition:

This is a petition to advocate against FDA approval for Flibanserin, a so-called ‘female Viagra’ recently produced by the drug company Boehringer Ingelheim. It is extremely important that the FDA does not approve Flibanserin, because this new drug:

1. offers only TRIVIAL benefits to women's sexual lives, as shown in the company's clinical trials.

2. might have serious ADVERSE EFFECTS when marketed to a large population.

3. comes with an AGGRESSIVE MARKETING campaign to convince women that sexuality is located in the brain, and that low sexual desire suggests chemical imbalances in the brain.

4. contributes to UNDERMINING and CONCEALING social and cultural issues that lead to women's problems with sexual desire.

5. tends to pathologize normal sexual diversity and therefore NARROWS the ‘cultural ideal’ around female sexuality.

6. represents a classic case of the pursuit of PROFIT rather than women's sexual pleasure and scientific knowledge.

We will take this petition to the upcoming FDA hearing on Flibanserin on June 18th, 2010 as part of our grass-roots campaign of sex scholars, practitioners, and activists. We will be face-to-face with the experts and allies of Boehringer Ingelheim, a global corporation that we believe has engaged in practices of "disease-mongering" with regards to women's sexuality.

Please sign the petition and support our campaign for diverse sexualities.

For more information, check out the following posts:

Meet Your New Experimental Sex Drug: Flibanserin by Cory Silverberg

One pill makes your libido larger at Neuroskeptic

New trials of female sexual dysfunction drug (Flibanserin) will be reported this week by Petra Boyton.

I've blogged about it my blog and the blog Shades of Gray (from whom I got the link) also encourages people to sign the petition.

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Flour Confessor

But is it really ethical to attempt to stomp out a product that could potentially help a great many people who really are in distress because of their low sexual appetites? Let's not forget that the amount of people who wish they could be more interested in sex for any reason is most likely far greater than our "1%" of the population, which I assume are the ones you're implying might be offended by this product's ad campaign.

By the way, sexuality is located in the brain.

No offense, but this just seems weird to me.

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Lord Happy Toast

Think of it in terms of risk/benefit. How much benefit would there be to people were this drug approved? How much harm?

For any drug, there is the possibility of harm. What about possible side effects? How much will it cost people? Even if it is helpful for some people, will those mostly be the only ones it is prescribed for? Or will it be massively over prescribed? And if it is approved, it is almost certain that we'll be hearing lots of commercials about how oh-so-distressing not being interested in sex is (just like ED commercials have come to be so ubiquitous). I feel (as do those who created this petition) that the harm would greatly exceed the benefit. (Did you check out those effect sizes I quoted? The benefits of the drug are negligible.)

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Flour Confessor

Well, assuming the drug actually doesn't work, as the articles you linked seem to imply, then I wouldn't oppose giving it's FDA approval a spirited veto. But the tone of the post (and some of the aforementioned linked articles) seem to be taking issue with the fact that the drug's makers might soon try to tell people that it's a problem to have a low libido when, in fact, it is a very real problem for many people. I guess that's what I'm against. If the drug doesn't work, then fine, go to town. But having an ad campaign that might offend a fringe group is no reason, in my opinion, to try to get a theoretically helpful product blacklisted by the FDA.

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NMirrored

But is it really ethical to attempt to stomp out a product that could potentially help a great many people who really are in distress because of their low sexual appetites? Let's not forget that the amount of people who wish they could be more interested in sex for any reason is most likely far greater than our "1%" of the population, which I assume are the ones you're implying might be offended by this product's ad campaign.

By the way, sexuality is located in the brain.

No offense, but this just seems weird to me.

I think I have to agree. I mean, I'm a guy, and, as far as I know, no one's forcing me to take Viagra or giving it to me intravenously in my sleep, so, no one's going to force you to take it. It's just an option, should you choose it. As far as the ad campaign, I don't see how it could get much more intrusive. I mean, just look around you, sex is marketed everywhere. On billboards, television, movies, comic books... I could go on, but, you get the idea.

Attempting to stomp out everything simply because you don't like it is really unethical, and downright dictatorial.

Just my opinion on the matter, do with it what you will.

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Latvia

Mmmyeah... I have nothing against viagra, so why should I have a problem with a "female viagra"? No one's going to make me take it, and I'm sure there are women out there who would willingly try it. Some people ARE distressed by a "lack of sexual desire", it's not like it's a big conspiracy trying to make us have sex. I don't get what the big problem is?

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Offed Pez

The text of the petition:

This is a petition to advocate against FDA approval for Flibanserin, a so-called ‘female Viagra’ recently produced by the drug company Boehringer Ingelheim. It is extremely important that the FDA does not approve Flibanserin, because this new drug:

3. comes with an AGGRESSIVE MARKETING campaign to convince women that sexuality is located in the brain, and that low sexual desire suggests chemical imbalances in the brain.

I'm sorry. You lost me with this. Could you please explain to me how sexuality is not located in the brain? I mean, what, is the homosexual hetro-romantic now described as the man that goes around saying, "No, no! I love women. I'm straight, I swear. It's just my dick that's gay. It's got a mind of its own!" I mean, everything you do is in your brain. Your breathing pattern. The rate your heart wants to pump. The pain you feel in your pinky toe. That's ALL in your brain.

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Lord Happy Toast

The last drug for HSDD (which the FDA rejected) was a hormonal patch, so they emphasized how low sexual desire is a hormonal problem. This drug does something or other to your brain so they want to emphasize that low sexual desire is a matter of something being wrong in the brain.

The petition (which on that point is misleadingly worded if you don't have the background to know what they mean) is arguing against reductionist understandings of sexuality that ignore relational, social, and potitical contexts. They're objecting to reducing sexual problems to neurochemical problems.

On this point, I agree with the point the authors are trying to make, though I do also have issues with their wording.

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ily

But is it really ethical to attempt to stomp out a product that could potentially help a great many people who really are in distress because of their low sexual appetites?

If pharmaceutical companies were in it out of the pure goodness of their hearts, then I would agree with you. But while yeah, most people in the industry care about people's health, a lot of it is concerned with making as much money as possible. I think the drug industry is, unfortunately, becoming similar to the diet and beauty industries. It is in their great financial interest to create or exacerbate problems that don't exist. Or to exploit people's insecurities. Or to push products that don't work. We've seen with diet pills that people will spend large sums of money for drugs that don't actually do anything. I think people should feel as free to protest corporations as they should to protest governments (which ostensibly help people as well). In fact, it's becoming increasingly important to do so, as some corporations have the same financial resources and clout as small (or not so small) countries. I don't know if certain corporations should get a free pass just because they make drugs.

Personally, I think this is part of a bigger issue in American health care, which is that if there is a pill you can throw at a problem, that's seen as the best option. If there is a pill for low sex drive in women, even if it doesn't work, then it will probably be a lot harder for people to get their insurance companies to pay for counseling or more "nuanced" approaches. I'm not against pills by any means. If they were weighed with other methods of treatment. Which they usually are not. If this particular drug doesn't get approved, there will probably be another one right behind it. I really don't know if the FDA heeds petitions, but it could be important for them to know that not everyone views low sexual desire as a problem. They already know about the people who do view it that way, so maybe it's time to hear a different view.

It also seems worth noting that this petition campaign isn't being headed by asexuals. Or at least, that's what I can gather from the website.

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Sally

The FDA doesn't solicit or pay attention to public comments on its approvals. It approves drugs if it appears they are supposedly not physically dangerous to humans (safety) and have some measurable effect on what they're intended to address (efficacy). It doesn't make moral or ethical judgments. Petition all you want but you're wasting your energy.

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sinisterporpoise

Viagra doesn't really change a person's sex drive, it change's a person's blood flow. The problem that viagra solves isn't libido related, it's blood flow related. People who have problems with extremely low blood pressure could be given Viagra, if the doctor were so inclined.

However, I don't have a problem with an HSDD drug being marketed to those who want it. A lot of psychology is still guess work, despite the best efforts of psychiatrists and others. What's more risky is how the marketing campaing is being done. If we as Asexuals are trying to get out the message that a lack of desire for sex isn't a problem, it could damage that.

With that being said, it is possible that low sex drive sometimes results from medical issues. (Changes in a person's sex drive are what people should worry about here -- not someone with a naturally low libido to begin with.) I don't believe in urging people to action prematurely and in a reactive fashion. Exercise some caution. Wait until the FDA approves the drug and then attack the marketing campaign. Whether we like it or not, some people will want this product if it gets approved.

The issue here isn't marginal issues with the drug, it's the proposed marketing campaign.

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Sally

The FDA doesn't market. The drug companies do that, so they're the proper target for a petition. (Not that they care about public comment either.)

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Siggy

I'm not convinced that a petition is the right way to put down a drug. If the FDA is to disapprove of Flibanserin, it should be because it is ineffective or risky, not because they received a petition signed by people who, for the most part, only know about the evidence that was mentioned on an internet forum. If I were part of whatever FDA committee, I would exclude the petition as evidence.

We've seen with diet pills that people will spend large sums of money for drugs that don't actually do anything. I think people should feel as free to protest corporations as they should to protest governments (which ostensibly help people as well). In fact, it's becoming increasingly important to do so, as some corporations have the same financial resources and clout as small (or not so small) countries. I don't know if certain corporations should get a free pass just because they make drugs.

Yes, there's definitely a time and place to make noise and put some political pressure on the system. I would rather make noise about the DSHEA, which allows "dietary supplements" to go straight to the market without FDA approval, because they are classified as food rather than drugs. That's how most snake oil gets through.

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Noskcaj.Llahsram

But is it really ethical to attempt to stomp out a product that could potentially help a great many people who really are in distress because of their low sexual appetites? Let's not forget that the amount of people who wish they could be more interested in sex for any reason is most likely far greater than our "1%" of the population, which I assume are the ones you're implying might be offended by this product's ad campaign.

At this point I don't think that we should look at this ethically. As a group we are still infantile, with respect to power or influence, if something like this drug we're to reach the open market, with the type of pushing new psycho-pharmaceuticals receive, we'd be smothered by it in the social consciousness. We would all of a sudden be further back from any goal than we ever were.

We need to be selfish for a little bit and concentrate on self preservation, even if it is a inconvenience to the population at large

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kakkobean

I'm more curious as to what "ADVERSE AFFECTS" implies--like, is the drug dangerous in some way? Is it like Prozac in that it's not meant for everyone and should only be prescribed with care? I mean, anything that messes with brain chemistry is a nasty trick. I want the petition to elaborate more on that part of their campaign.

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michaeld

Well, assuming the drug actually doesn't work, as the articles you linked seem to imply, then I wouldn't oppose giving it's FDA approval a spirited veto. But the tone of the post (and some of the aforementioned linked articles) seem to be taking issue with the fact that the drug's makers might soon try to tell people that it's a problem to have a low libido when, in fact, it is a very real problem for many people. I guess that's what I'm against. If the drug doesn't work, then fine, go to town. But having an ad campaign that might offend a fringe group is no reason, in my opinion, to try to get a theoretically helpful product blacklisted by the FDA.

Well said. I completely agree.

I don't know enough about the drug to know if opposing it is right or not. But, if I did, my opposition would have nothing to do with my asexuality.

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michaeld

At this point I don't think that we should look at this ethically. As a group we are still infantile, with respect to power or influence, if something like this drug we're to reach the open market, with the type of pushing new psycho-pharmaceuticals receive, we'd be smothered by it in the social consciousness. We would all of a sudden be further back from any goal than we ever were.

Our goal should be to argue for asexualilty as a valid orientation, not that people distressed by their low libido shouldn't get help.

We need to be selfish for a little bit and concentrate on self preservation, even if it is a inconvenience to the population at large

If we went down this route then, frankly, we would deserve to be shunned by the population at large.

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PiF

until the day someone forces medication down my neck then I have to say the more the merrier

we cannot in all good faith take away a possibility of someone with low libido and hating it...take away that chance for them to live the life they want

if we as a group tried stopping this...it would like we are making everyone with low libido stay asexual because we do not want people to change

get the drugs out into the public.....let the individual decide

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Lord Happy Toast

There were some useful tidbits from some other blogs that I cited on my blog that I should have cited here.

From Neuroskeptic: One pill makes your libido larger:

Flibanserin was originally developed as an antidepressant, but in clinical trials against depression it reportedly failed to perform better than placebo. The standard for getting approved as an antidepressant is low, so this is quite an achievement.</blockquote>

After an a review of the relevant scientific information, Neuroskeptic suggests how it works:<blockquote>It's obvious from the side effects data that this drug is a sedative - it makes you tired and sleepy. The animal data confirm this. It's much more likely to put you to sleep than it is to make you enjoy sex in any given month. Off the top of my head, I suspect its sedative properties are a result of its 5HT2A antagonism.

Any sedative can increase sexual desire, as anyone who has ever been to a bar will know. So whether this drug actually has an aphrodisiac effect, as opposed to just being a sleeping pill, is anyone's guess. To find out, you'd need to compare it to a sleeping pill, say, Valium. Or a couple of glasses of wine. Until someone does that, we don't know if this drug is destined to be the next big thing or a big disappointment.

Cory Silverberg reports on the effect size:

Women taking the drug also reported more "sexually satisfying events" than women taking the placebo. The increase in satisfying events was statistically significant, but it's worth considering the actual numbers. According to the aforementioned corporate press release women taking the drug had 1.2 more satisfying sexual events over 24 weeks compared to women taking a placebo who had 0.9 more satisfying events. That's 1.2 more sexual encounters they enjoyed over a six month period.

The main objections that I hear are that a) if people are distressed about their lack of interest in sex, it's not our place to prevent them from getting help, and b) whether this should get approved should be based on whether or not the drug works, not what effects it might have for asexuals.

For (a), I agree that we shouldn't prevent people from getting help. This petition was not written by people in the asexual community. It was written by sex-therapists who are concerned that approving this drug would do more harm than good and would prevent people from getting assistance that would actually help them with their problems. It has a statistically significant effect, but it is TINY.

For (b), first of all, there is more concern about the effects this would have on people outside the asexual community than inside. Secondly, I think that the social effects are a legitimate concern. Essentially, the question should be "Will approving this do more good than harm?" For the possible harm, cost, side-effects, and social consequences are all legitimate areas of concern. Given that the potential benefits to people (other than the company making the drug) are negligible, the possible harm should be taken very seriously.

Also, there is the question of what value the petition has. This drug has lots of money behind it because the company making knows that, if approved, they'd make a ton of money from it. The opposition largely comes from sex-therapists and sex-educators concerned about the negative effects it would have on the public. The petition is intended to bolster their position in the hearings later this month.

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Mistress D.

I'm more curious as to what "ADVERSE AFFECTS" implies--like, is the drug dangerous in some way? Is it like Prozac in that it's not meant for everyone and should only be prescribed with care? I mean, anything that messes with brain chemistry is a nasty trick. I want the petition to elaborate more on that part of their campaign.

Didn't Viagra cause blindness in some men? All drugs that effect the brain's chemicals once started change the brain forever. I mean some drugs make people addicted or change the chemical make-up so that they can't function without the drug. I mean why do they make drugs to fix every little 'problem' with people?

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ShiShi

Mmmyeah... I have nothing against viagra, so why should I have a problem with a "female viagra"? No one's going to make me take it, and I'm sure there are women out there who would willingly try it. Some people ARE distressed by a "lack of sexual desire", it's not like it's a big conspiracy trying to make us have sex. I don't get what the big problem is?

I know I'm a bit late to this thread, but I did have a few thoughts as well. I have no issue with viagra either, but viagra is designed for men with a sexual appetite who simply have trouble keeping an erection (for various reasons), not for men who lack a sexual appetite to begin with. This particular drug appears to be for women who lack interest in sex all together (probably for those women in relationships that are suffering from this lack of interest in sex). I would oppose having the FDA give this drug the go-ahead because there appears to not be enough benefit for the risk of taking the drug. Also, because of my recent class about the psychology of human sexuality (I do believe sexuality is controlled by our brains and hormones), I am rather skeptical of any sort of drug that would be even remotely considered an aphrodisiac.

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Noskcaj.Llahsram

Our goal should be to argue for asexualilty as a valid orientation, not that people distressed by their low libido shouldn't get help.

but people won't be able to view asexuality as a valid orientation, if part of it's main definition is associated with a 'condition' that can be treated. Also from what the little literature I've read on the subject this drug doesn't particularly do what it even promises very effectively, so it's not like we're trying to keep penicillin from them, more like keeping white pepper from them and leaving them with just black red and cayenne

If we went down this route then, frankly, we would deserve to be shunned by the population at large.

Why, under what possible condition? for any species? is self preservation, the nigh universally present quality in all life, make us " deserve to be shunned"?

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PiF

I think this was posted in the wrong place

this should have been hot box and not announcements

any mods about to look at the correct forum for this discussion?

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Kelly

*signs*

If this drug is approved, expect massive "educational" campaigns telling people just how distressing not being interested in sex is.

Ack. Then we might get attacked by PFAX or the like. :ph34r:

Viagra doesn't really change a person's sex drive, it change's a person's blood flow.

True, (by increasing nitric oxide and thus dilating blood vessels in the target area, causing it to stiffen).

BTW, progesterone (the other female hormone) can increase libido in some women, and it is already available in a pill (Prometrium).

I think this was posted in the wrong place

We can see what the announcement mod thinks, but the topic is directly about asexual visibility and education, so perhaps mandrewliter made a good choice in posting it here.

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Sally
I mean why do they make drugs to fix every little 'problem' with people?

To MAKE MONEY. "They" sell drugs.

Which is why petitions and such are not going to do any good. You might as well petition Starbucks to stop selling coffee.

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Lord Happy Toast

I think this was posted in the wrong place

this should have been hot box and not announcements

any mods about to look at the correct forum for this discussion?

For me, it was kind of a toss up between the Announcements forum and the Visibility and Education Forum, but I decided to go with Announcements because I was "announcing" the existence of this petition that I think will be of interest to a number of people in the asexual community (and I wanted to persuade people to sign it.) If the mods think it should be moved, I'm fine with that.

Also, my understanding is that you don't start thread in the hotbox; rather, threads get moved there if they end up getting really, really controversial and extremely heated (well beyond the level of disagreement this thread has generated.) I was actually kind of surprised at how controversial this has gotten so far.

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oneofthesun

Totally agree with this... It's sexual tyranny of women in a new disguise. Signed and posted on my face book.

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PiF

No worries Mandre

slightly incorrect on the hotbox

you can start a thread in the hotbox as most are original hotbox threads it's rare existing threads get moved there as most start there

agreed this was prob more likely to start in visibility or even philospohy

anything that requires more than one persons input tends to get loads of opinions

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Lucinda
Totally agree with this... It's sexual tyranny of women in a new disguise. Signed and posted on my face book.

This female viagra is not designed to work like Viagra for men.

So why is this new drug designed to be marketed to women only?? Read any of the sexless marriage forums and you will find just as many women as men complaining that their spouse has low interest/desire/drive or so it seems.

Perhaps men with supposedly low desire will be targeted next.

Lucinda

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michaeld

but people won't be able to view asexuality as a valid orientation, if part of it's main definition is associated with a 'condition' that can be treated.

Except it's not. Asexuality is lack of sexual attraction, not low libido. If we start campaigning against treatments for people distressed by their low libido, how can we we expect to be taken seriously when we claim (1) asexuality is not about lack of libido, (2) we are not anti-sex and (3) we are not looking to "convert" people to asexuality or low-L, but we simply want our orientation recognized as one of many valid possibilities.

If we went down this route then, frankly, we would deserve to be shunned by the population at large.

Why, under what possible condition? for any species? is self preservation, the nigh universally present quality in all life, make us " deserve to be shunned"?

If our "self-preservation" is at the expense of other people then they have every reason to oppose us or have nothing to do with us.

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