New campaign pushes for libido drug for women

A coalition of health and women's groups is pushing the Food and Drug Administration to approve its first drug to treat low sex drive in women.

In a campaign dubbed "Even the Score," the groups accuse the FDA of "persistent gender inequity" for approving more than 20 drugs for men's sexual dysfunction but none for women.

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"We have waited long enough," said Susan Scanlan, a founding member of the campaign, in a statement.

"It's time for the FDA to act for women by approving the first-ever drug to treat the most common form of women's sexual dysfunction and open the field of research for a variety of treatment options to come."

Scanlan is the former chairwoman of the National Council of Women's Organizations, one of 12 groups responsible for the effort.

The FDA has denied accusations of gender bias, pointing to the many women who hold leadership roles at the agency.

The debate hinges on a once-a-day treatment for hypoactive sexual desire disorder, or HSDD, created by Sprout Pharmaceuticals.

The FDA declined to approve the drug last year due to concerns over side effects, such as nausea and fatigue.

The decision produced a backlash from women's groups and Sprout itself, which is backing the new issue campaign.

Democrats in Congress also joined in the fray with a letter pushing the FDA to review the product with the "same standards of consideration" given to drugs for men.

The letter came from Reps. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.), Chellie Pingree (D-Maine), Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) and Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.).