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‘Pink Viagra’ Scrapped

October 9, 2010

“Pink Viagra,” an experimental pill claiming to boost a woman’s sex drive, has been scrapped by German maker Boehringer Ingelheim after failing to convince US regulators that the pill actually worked.

“The decision was not made lightly, considering the advanced stage of development,” CEO Andreas Barner told Reuters on Friday. The company had hoped the pill would have been a potential windfall aimed at premenopausal women with a persistent lack of sex drive.

The move marked the failure of the latest attempt to come up with a female counterpart to the ever-popular Viagra for men. Drug makers have tested a number of ways to boost female libido, but women’s sex lives have proved difficult to target with pills.

Advisors for the US government said in June that the pink pill, using the active ingredient flibanserin, offered little to no help with women’s sex drive and had potentially harmful risks. About 15 percent of women stopped taking the drug before the study ended due to side effects such as depression, fatigue and fainting.

In August, the US Food and Drug Administration asked unlisted Boehringer for more information on flibanserin, which would have been marketed as Girosa.

“The response of the authorities and the complexity and extent of further questions that would need to be addressed to potentially obtain registration for flibanserin have impacted the company’s decision to focus on other pipeline projects,” Boehringer told Reuters.

Flibanserin, initially developed as an antidepressant, was believed to also act on brain chemicals that play a role in sexual response. But, during clinical trials, women using the once-a-day pill, reported unwanted side effects.

An advisory committee for the FDA voted 11-0 in June that the risks of the pill outweighed any potential benefit the drug had.

Boehringer said it would now only complete the two most advanced drug trials just to finish them.

The flibanserin setback hasn’t affected Boehringer’s success in pioneering a new blood thinning pill that rival Bayer said could be worth $15 billion. And an advisory panel last month recommended clearance of Boehringer’s Pradaxa for preventing strokes in patients with irregular heart beat.

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