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Female Libibo Drug Addyi Gets Cold Reception

Only 227 prescriptions since October launch

Sales for the female sexual-desire drug Addyi (flibanserin, Sprout Pharmaceuticals) have been nothing to shout about, with only 227 prescriptions since the drug was launched in mid October, according to a Bloomberg report.

Although Addyi is not directly comparable with the blockbuster male sexual-enhancement drug Viagra (sildenafil, Pfizer), that medication was prescribed more than 500,000 times in its first week, Bloomberg said. Unlike Viagra, Addyi addresses desire, not performance. Another important difference is that Addyi is administered in a once-daily dose that takes some time before patients begin to see a difference in their sexual desire. In clinical studies, patients began to show desire after about 4 weeks of treatment.

According to Bloomberg, the FDA rejected Addyi in 2010 when it was owned by Boehringer Ingelheim. Sprout acquired the drug in 2011, but it was again rebuffed in 2013. After two more years of study, the FDA finally backed the drug’s approval, although it comes with a boxed warning regarding potential adverse effects, including severe hypotension that can cause patients to pass out. The drug’s adverse effects are increased if alcohol is consumed. 

Bloomberg pointed out that cost may also be a factor in the public’s cold response to Addyi. A monthly treatment of the once-daily medication costs approximately $800, or about $9,600 per year. Some insurers told Bloomberg they were not covering Addyi or were placing it on their higher-cost tiers.

After Addyi was approved, Sprout said the medication would be prescribed only by pharmacies certified by Sprout and that it would require training on counseling patients about the drug’s risks and adverse effects, especially the interaction with alcohol. So far, the company has trained 5,600 physicians, about 1% of obstetricians and general practitioners who might be able to prescribe the drug, Bloomberg reported. 

Sources: Bloomberg; November 17, 2015; and Biospace; November 17, 2015.

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