Sale of women’s libido-boosting pill falls flat

More than half a million men got prescriptions for Viagra in its first month on the mar ket in 1998. The number of prescriptions for Addyi, the women’s libido-boosting pill in its first few weeks? 227.

There was going to be this huge onslaughtThere have been a few ca sual inquiries, but no presc riptions yet.

Addyi, made by Valeant Pharmaceuticals Internatio nal Inc.’s Sprout unit, was controversial even before it hit the US market on October 17. The pill offers meaningful help for only about 10% more patients than a placebo, and it has h a risk of serious side effects, including severely low blood pressure and fainting. To minimize these problems, women are supposed to refrain from alcohol while taking the daily pill. The Food and Drug Admi nistration had twice rejected Addyi, approving it on the condition that doctors get certified to prescribe it, to ensure they understand the risks and can counsel patients about them.

Half A Million Men Bought Viagra In Its First Month On Market, While Addyi Has Sold Just 227 Since Oct 17

This requires online trai ning that takes about 10 minutes to complete. However, only 5,600 doctors have been cleared so far, said Michael Pearson, Valeant’s chief executive officer. That’s about 1% of the more than 35,000 practicing obstetricians and gynecologists and 435,084 primary-care physicians in the US.

Addyi is approved for pre menopausal women with hypoactive sexual-desire disorder, so a patient’s low libido must be caused by the disorder, not a psychiatric condition or problems within the relationship. That’s a “relatively small number of women,“ said Jonathan Schaffir, an obgyn at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center in Columbus.

Another reason could be that women may be discouraged to learn that Addyi doesn’t work like sexual-dysfunction pills for men.libido

Drugs like Viagra and Cialis, which had combined sales of $3.98 billion last year, help men who can’t get an erection by increasing blood flow to the penis. Addyi is similar to an antidepressant, targeting neurotransmitters that communicate information through the mind and body and can affect mood.

Cost may be an issue with Addyi, which sells at $26 a pill. That’s about the cost of Viagra, yet Addyi must be taken every day, so the monthly tally is about $780. Insurers and pharmacy-benefit managers have said they either aren’t covering Addyi or are placing it on their third tier, meaning it will cost patients more than generic medications or preferred brand-name treatments.