by Petula Dvorak, Washington Post Columnist, October 27, 2014
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Judith Reid-Haff wore a dark blazer, a skirt and mile-high red patent platform heels for the big day. It’s not every day, after all, that you get to tell a federal panel about your sex life.
Reid-Haff, 66, and two buses full of other brave women — and some equally brave men — descended on the Food and Drug Administration’s Silver Spring campus Monday with a group fighting for women’s health equity called Even the Score to demand that the agency take a more serious look at treatments for female sexual dysfunction.
In red heels, black pumps, comfort flats and combat boots, they marched through the FDA campus.
These are women who want to want to have sex. But their bodies are telling them no.
That pill was pushed through in a matter of months when it left a lab 16 years ago. And hallelujah, all these men could have sex again. Today, Viagra is a staple of health insurance plans, gauzy television commercials and Internet ads.
Even companies that don’t want to let insurance plans cover birth control hand out Viagra like Skittles. And since the little blue pill hit the nation’s sex scene, more than 20 drugs to treat male sexual dysfunction have come to the market.
How many are there for women? -- Zilch. Zero.
Susan Scanlan, a longtime women’s advocate on Capitol Hill, has been fighting inequity in women’s health care for years, from spending on breast cancer research to the inclusion of women in clinical trials.
There are plenty of clinical trials for drugs that could treat low sexual desire in women. But, Scanlan said, the FDA doesn’t approve the drugs because of the possible side effects, such as “drowsiness, fatigue, dizziness and dry mouth.”
Earlier this year, the FDA approved Xiaflex, the 24th drug out there to treat male sexual dysfunction. The possible side effects of that puppy? “Heart attack. Sudden death. And my personal favorite, penile rupture,” Scanlan said.
The advocates arrived at the FDA on Monday morning with a letter signed by 80 experts in men’s sexual health from across the country urging the administration to approve a treatment.
“As humans, we believe in gender equality and while we appreciate that our understanding of women’s sexual health has lagged behind that of the male by at least two decades, we are catching up.”
It’s about time.