It's not your fault, ladies (and certainly not your partner's), that you don't
orgasm every time you have intercourse, or that you lack the libido of a
17-year-old boy. You have a disease: female sexual dysfunction (FSD),
and the pharmaceutical industry wants to help.
You are among the "43 percent of American women [who] experience
some degree of impaired sexual function," according to a Journal of the
American Medical Association article. The FDA's evolving definition of
FSD includes decreased desire or arousal, sexual pain or orgasm
difficulties -- but only if the woman feels "personal distress" about it.
So, convincing women to feel distress is a key component of drug
company strategy to market a multi-billion-dollar pill or potion that will
cure billions of women of what may not ail them.
By promoting the belief that "normal" women have explosive sex all the time,
BigPharma helped launch the disease. However, the FDA has yet to approve a
treatment for women who fall short. Until then, they could try the
Orgasmatron: a dial-a-delight spinal implant that rarely works -- and risks
infection and paralysis. Or, for $60/month, pop LexaFem pills -- containing
(how-could-it-not-work) "horny goat weed extract" in order to "feel like a real
woman today." Its website promises, "You won't ever feel unhappy again
with LexaFem in your arsenal."
But the big swinging dicks of global FSD marketing (and off-label
marketing) are Pfizer -- whose stop-gap strategy is selling women Viagra
based on the fact that it works for men, and Procter & Gamble (P&G),
which, using the same logic, has put its money on testosterone.
Viagra's failure in trial after trial to work on women has not stopped
doctors from writing 1.4 million off-label prescriptions. FSD is "a classic
example of starting with some preconceived, and non-evidence based
diagnostic categorization for women's sexual dysfunctions, based on the
male model," said John Bancroft, director of the Kinsey Institute, in an
interview with BMJ (British Medical Journal).
No drug follows the male model more literally than testosterone. Despite
FDA refusal to approve P&G's testosterone patch Intrinsa, U.S. doctors
wrote 2 million off-label testosterone prescriptions in 2007. Like Pfizer's
little blue pill, the Intrinsa patch doesn't really work for women. No
wonder: Researchers don't even know what constitutes a "normal" female
testosterone level, and women with low levels of the hormone are as likely
as those with high levels to be happy with their sex lives. And as
filmmaker Liz Canner shows in her excellent new documentary Orgasm,
Inc., (www.orgasminc.org), testosterone is usually teamed with estrogen,
which increases risks for stroke, cancers and dementia.
The companies and clinics that narrow the range of sexual normality to porn
industry standards suffer their own disease. Symptoms include: a compulsion
to concoct illnesses and then develop drugs to treat them, and vice versa.
Either way, the syndrome is typically accompanied by a rash of conflicts of
A Pfizer survey in Malaysia found that Malay women are even more diseased
than their American counterparts, with "69.6 percent experiencing some form
of FSD," according to the Journal of Sexual Medicine, which also published
an industry-supported supplement on FSD. Journal editor and urologist Irwin
Goldstein denies a conflict of interest. "Science is science," he says. "It comes
down to the bottom line. What the data shows, the data shows." Actually, no.
Drug company-funded studies are more likely than independent studies to find
the new drug superior to the old. Perhaps the bottom line Dr. Goldstein refers
to is his income as a paid consultant for drug companies, including P&G and
Goldstein established an FSD clinic with Dr. Jennifer Berman, who now
heads a Beverly Hills clinic and appears on Oprah. As one of the health
professionals on a 1998 panel that received financial sponsorship from
eight pharmaceutical companies, she helped define female sexual
dysfunction. Some 22 drug companies, including Pfizer, had financial ties
to 18 of the 19 authors of that panel's report, the BMJ revealed.
"Maybe the best approach is not ineffective, over-hyped drugs with nasty
side effects, but an end to disease mongering and a strong dose of
comprehensive sex education," says filmmaker Canner. Her film hits
female erogenous zones that pharmaceutical fixes can't find: your brain
and your funny bone.
|The big swinging dicks of global FSD marketing
marketing) are Pfizer and Procter & Gamble.