March 11, 2004  
Volume 97, Issue 84  

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Viagra doesn’t work on women

By Christopher Smeenk
Gazette Staff

Viagra, the drug being blamed for the revival of venereal diseases among Florida’s retirement population, has been found ineffective in the treatment of female sexual arousal disorder (FSAD).

According to a press release from Pfizer, the creator of Viagra, pharmaceutical studies concluding this month suggest the efficacy of Viagra in treating FSAD is dubious.

“The results do not mean that Viagra doesn’t help to treat FSAD, but they do not support a regulatory filing,” said Kate Robins, a spokesperson for Pfizer. She indicated the company would not continue researching treatment of FSAD with Viagra.

“FSAD is not simply the female equivalent of erectile dysfunction,” Robins said. “It’s an incredibly complex set of symptoms and causes that are difficult to evaluate and treat.”

FSAD is characterized by a persistent inability to attain or maintain sexual excitement and may create emotional difficulties, Robins explained. The condition is believed to result from a broad range of medical and psychological conditions, she said, adding diagnosis of FSAD involves assessing physical, emotional and relationship factors.

“The whole notion that women and men experience sexuality in the same way was horribly misguided,” commented Abbie Lippman, chair of the Canadian Women’s Health Network.

“The whole thing is a construct of the pharmaceutical industry and medical community designed to pathologize women’s sexual experience,” said Leonore Tiefer, a leading women’s health researcher.

“Pfizer has changed the expectations that men have about their erections through advertising and press releases,” Tiefer explained. “Women don’t materialize their sexual arousal in the same way.

“Doctors fix things that are broken,” she said, arguing the failure of a woman or man to become aroused does not necessarily indicate the presence of a physical problem. “To find out what arouses a woman, you just have to ask them.”



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