In my interview with author/doctor/researcher, Dr. Susan Hoppe, I peppered her with questions about Boehringer Ingelheim’s “Viagra” for women, not even realizing that she acts as a central figure in the pill’s development. It was a bonus that I had to take advantage of. So, enjoy reading this expert’s insight on the controversial “pink pill”! (Note: these answers are mostly paraphrased by me, not taken word-for-word from the interview.)
Question #1: Throughout your book, you make it clear that women's sex drives are largely psychological. What do you think about the recently denied "Viagra” pill for women?
Answer: Well first, you should know that the FDA hasn’t denied the pill yet – it is actually still in review. There are a lot of processes involved in approving a drug, so really it was just being tested by an advisory board, designed to counsel the FDA.
One of the main ways the pill was tested was by reading the e-diaries of women in the drug studies. Participants were required to record their sexual thoughts, desires or actions daily. In reviewing these diaries, the advisory board found that on a day-to-day basis, there was no recognizable change in libido for women taking the pill. However, taking a longer term view of the study and examining changes over a 28-day cycle, it was apparent that women who took the pill were experiencing improved sex drives as compared to those taking the placebo. So, while the agency recognized that the pill had some impact, the FDA was looking for a drug that would take effect in a more instantly gratifiable manner. The advising agency will continue to test, looking for the endpoint desired by the FDA, but it should be known that the people who have the final decisions know very little about the science of women’s health. It makes more sense to measure sex drive for women on a monthly scale, rather than the daily due to hormone fluctuations and other cyclical factors.
Question #2: You explained in the book that women’s sex drives are motivated by different things than the male libido, so the “pink pill” must work in a different way, right?