Warning of Marginal Benefits and Serious Side Effects as Drug Sales Begin


Health Advocates Issue Emergency Alert on Addyi:  The New Sex Drug for Women

Washington, D.C. – The consumer advocacy group National Women’s Health Network (NWHN) today issued its first ever Emergency Alert on Addyi (in four decades on flibanserin),  – known as Addyi – the new “female Viagra” pill recently approved by the FDA and bought by Valeant Pharmaceuticals for $1 billion.

NWHN is warning all women about the health risks of the new “pink pill”, alleged to boost female libido. Rather than rely on the drug company’s marketing, NWHN recommends that women educate themselves, and pass on the pink pill. 

NWHN is raising the alarm to warn doctors and patients not to be hoodwinked by a sales force of 150 Addyi evangelists that has fanned out across America to promote the pink pill as an aphrodisiac for women with low sexual desire. With scant evidence, the drug companyy aims to convince physicians that a high risk/low benefit pill, whichthat alters women’s brain chemistry, can treat this complex challenge of women’s sexuality.

“We want women and their doctors to know that this drug is a sham, a billion dollar bust that promises to significantly increase women’s sexual desire but does not,” said Cindy PearsonExecutive Director of NWHN. “By the drug company’s own measures, Addyi’s purported impact on women’s libidos barely registered. Addyi increased reports of ‘sexually satisfying events’ in a narrow group of women by only half an event per month.”

“With high rates of side effects like extreme low blood pressure and fainting, women are more likely to pass out on Addyi than get in the mood for sex,” Pearson added. “We urge all women and doctors to evaluate Addyi’s high risks and low benefits and to ‘Pass on the Pink Pill – or Pass Out!’

“The FDA, in deciding to approve Addyi to treat low sexual desire in women, fell prey to the public campaign accusing them of not caring about women's health,” said Dr. Susan Wood, Associate Professor of Health Policy at the George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health and former Director of the FDA’s Office of Women’s Health.

"Unfortunately, Addyi is putting women's health at risk,” Wood added. “The drug company is still conducting safety trials, even as it markets the drug to doctors. This drug is too ineffective and too unsafe for too many women. Physicians should ‘Pass on the Pink Pill’ and seek alternatives for patients who are distressed by low libidos.”

The NWHN Emergency Alert warns women that clinical trials found Addyi:

  • Barely works, and not at all for 9 out of 10 women
  • Impacts brain chemistry and must be taken daily
  • Requires total abstinence from alcohol
  • Can cause sedation, dizziness, low blood pressure and unconsciousness
  • Must be taken at night, so if you faint you’ll be in bed
  • May cause sleepiness, fatigue, insomnia, nausea and dry mouth
  • Can only be prescribed for a narrow group of women with low libido
  • Is excluded for women who have reached menopause
  • Is excluded for women who take certain drugs for depression
  • Is excluded for many women with diabetes, high cholesterol, thyroid or liver disease
  • May increase side effects when taken with certain hormonal birth control pills
  • Cannot be used with drugs for migraines, yeast infections and other common conditions

Learn more about Addyi and The National Women’s Health Network at https://www.nwhn.org.

The National Women’s Health Network brings the voices, concerns and needs of women consumers to policy and regulatory tables. We are supported by our members, and by choice we do not accept financial support from drug companies or medical device manufacturers. 

Cindy Pearson was the NWHN’s Executive Director from 1996 to 2021. One of the nation's leading advocates for women's health, Cindy often testified before Congress,  NIH and the FDA and was frequently featured in the news as a consumer expert on women’s health issues. When she retired, Cindy received a Congressional Resolution in honor of her outstanding contributions to the health of women and girls.

Read more from Cindy Pearson.