Female Viagra Is Here, But Are Women Using It?

Not so much.

Female viagra, or Flibanserin (aka Addyi), hit the shelves on October 17th in what felt like something resembling a feminist win. After all, women enjoy sex just as much as men, and should be able to continue enjoying it when their sex drives decline. Yet, the pill has only been prescribed 1,000 times in the three months it's been available. Why? Because only premenopausal women with hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD) are eligible, while prescribing doctors have to be trained by Sprout Pharmaceuticals. 

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Helping women with HSDD is a great first step, but Addyi could be useful for women who have experienced a decline in sexual interest for reasons as ubiquitous as taking birth control and anti-depressants. Don't these women deserve access to Addyi, too—especially since Viagra is so relatively easy for men to get?

Nearly 500,000 Viagra prescriptions were dolled out during the first month it became available in 1998, and 70 percent of insurance companies help cover the cost. Meanwhile, only half of the women who've tried Addyi (which costs $850 per month) are getting help from their insurance. 

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"We know that men are getting covered. There are many choices for men," Sally Greenberg, executive director at the National Consumers League in Washington, D.C., tells the Pittsburgh Post Gazette. "Now women are running into serious barriers [pursuing] something that did gain FDA approval for safety and effectiveness. I'm shaking my head and saying, 'What's wrong with this picture?'"

Addyi certainly isn't a cure-all (it will help "fewer than half" of the women taking it), but still: in a world where Viagra is popped like candy, shouldn't a female alternative be more readily available?

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