The Drug Industry Conspired to Pathologize Low Sex Drive in Women for Profit

From ScienceDaily:

Drug companies have not only sponsored the science of a new condition known as female sexual dysfunction, they have helped to construct it, in order to build global markets for new drugs, reveals an article in the British Medical Journal.

Researching his new book ‘Sex, Lies and Pharmaceuticals’ Ray Moynihan, journalist and lecturer at the University of Newcastle in Australia, discovered that drug industry employees have worked with paid key opinion leaders to help develop the disease entity; they have run surveys to portray it as widespread; and they helped design diagnostic tools to persuade women that their sexual difficulties deserve a medical label and treatment.

He believes that “drug marketing is merging with medical science in a fascinating and frightening way” and he asks whether we need a fresh approach to defining disease.

He quotes a company employee saying that her company was interested in “expediting the development of a disease” and he reveals how companies are funding surveys that portray sexual problems as widespread and creating tools to assess women for “hypoactive sexual desire disorder.”

Many of the researchers involved in these activities were drug company employees or had financial ties to the industry, writes Moynihan. Meanwhile, scientific studies conducted without industry funding were questioning whether a widespread disorder of low desire really existed.

Industry is also taking a leading role in “educating” both professionals and the public about this controversial condition, he adds.

For example, a Pfizer funded course designed for doctors across the United States claimed that up to 63% of women had sexual dysfunction and that testosterone and sildenafil (Viagra) may be helpful, along with behavioural therapy. And he points out that German drug company Boehringer Ingelheim’s “educational” activities “went into overdrive” as the planned 2010 launch of its desire drug, flibanserin, approached.

Read more here.

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  • http://twitter.com/TheBluntBlog Hot Gravy

    thats really messed up. why am i sitting here reading this? why arent these monsters being stopped? the big pharmas are fucking us up.

  • http://twitter.com/TheBluntBlog Hot Gravy

    thats really messed up. why am i sitting here reading this? why arent these monsters being stopped? the big pharmas are fucking us up.

  • no one in particular

    they did the same for men’s ED … it’s not ED if you can’t stand your wife anymore.

  • no one in particular

    they did the same for men’s ED … it’s not ED if you can’t stand your wife anymore.

  • http://voxmagi-necessarywords.blogspot.com/ VoxMagi

    I’m not sure a conspiracy to call a problem a problem is really a conspiracy. If even a marginal, healthy sexual life is beyond your ability to achieve…you have a problem. I’ll grant that, like with everything else, big pharma will push doctors to overprescribe meds on even the flimsiest of reasons…but if we can check that behavioral issue and return to an era of cautious diagnosis, hypoactive sexual desire would be just another very real issue for possible treatment.

    • Andrew

      If one doesn’t want to have sex as much as the average person, for whom is it a problem? What’s not “healthy” about it? And why should one be shamed into having more sex than they currently want?

      • http://voxmagi-necessarywords.blogspot.com/ VoxMagi

        keywords being ‘marginal healthy’…if it isn’t much of an obstacle…then its not really a problem…but if a persons sex drive is so low that they can’t maintain a physical relationship even with someone they’re extremely fond of…because attraction/sexuality is a locked door…then almost any help would be better than no help.

        I’m no cheering section for big pharma…since they can find a way to over hype and oversell just about anything…but I don’t feel comfortable with the line of attack suggesting that very real symptomology is all fictional and devised.

  • http://voxmagi-necessarywords.blogspot.com/ VoxMagi

    I’m not sure a conspiracy to call a problem a problem is really a conspiracy. If even a marginal, healthy sexual life is beyond your ability to achieve…you have a problem. I’ll grant that, like with everything else, big pharma will push doctors to overprescribe meds on even the flimsiest of reasons…but if we can check that behavioral issue and return to an era of cautious diagnosis, hypoactive sexual desire would be just another very real issue for possible treatment.

  • gemmarama

    the problem is that as far as sex is concerned, western society has gone from puritan repression to an orgiastic porn-o-rama in the space of a few decades. our liberation was snatched away from us and commodified before we even got a chance to enjoy it. as a result we still don’t understand how to really please each other. communication is surely the key rather than throwing drugs at the problem.

  • gemmarama

    the problem is that as far as sex is concerned, western society has gone from puritan repression to an orgiastic porn-o-rama in the space of a few decades. our liberation was snatched away from us and commodified before we even got a chance to enjoy it. as a result we still don’t understand how to really please each other. communication is surely the key rather than throwing drugs at the problem.

  • DeepCough

    Hardly a conspiracy and more like crooked capitalism in action. I mean, drug companies did this same thing
    by inventing Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (which is essentially a modernized classification for a condition
    the Ancient Greeks called “hysteria”).

  • DeepCough

    Hardly a conspiracy and more like crooked capitalism in action. I mean, drug companies did this same thing
    by inventing Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (which is essentially a modernized classification for a condition
    the Ancient Greeks called “hysteria”).

  • Haystack

    Also, it turned out that this condition was most prevalent among the wives of crusty drug company execs.

  • Haystack

    Also, it turned out that this condition was most prevalent among the wives of crusty drug company execs.

  • Andrew

    If one doesn’t want to have sex as much as the average person, for whom is it a problem? What’s not “healthy” about it? And why should one be shamed into having more sex than they currently want?

  • GoodDoktorBad

    At the risk of sounding like some Crowley nut, sex is powerful magic. The fact that it has been comodified,
    trivialized, and for many the “magical” component has been squelched shows up as “dysfunction”.

    This powerful magic goes beyond procreation and into the realm of communion with the higher forces of nature or if you prefer, creation. I have been fortunate enough to experience this and to know the diference between the passions of the heart and lusts of the body. When the two are combined, “heaven” can be visited and consulted.
    I believe that certain religions are on some level aware of this and it threatens their power in the world. It shows up as acts of animal lust (molestation) in its heirarchy -devoid of the spiritual element of sexuality.
    Priests praying on the natural and innocent energy of children who have yet to be corrupted. They want a piece of what they are not. They are deeply ashamed and afraid to show it in any outwardly constructive way.

    Unless you have an actual physical problem with your body, most sexual “dysfunction” is due to incompatability with a mate, lack of communication, personal sexual shame issues (like some priests) and for men, believing you have to be a walking erection and be ready for sex all the time. In short, the “dysfunction”
    is psychological and not physical, therefore not requiring a pill to correct it.

    • gemmarama

      couldn’t agree more.

      in fact, the existing pill may be part of the problem. from the new scientist:

      “What do we know about how women choose a mate?

      Recent studies have confirmed that women tend to prefer taut bodies, broad shoulders, clear skin and defined, masculine facial features – all of which may indicate sexual potency and good genes. Women also tend to be attracted to men who look as if they have wealth, or the ability to acquire it.

      Smell may also be a factor: women seem to prefer the scent of men who have immune systems dissimilar to their own, as measured by genes for the major histocompatibility complex (MHC). A number of companies have sprung up recently that even claim to be able to match couples on the basis of their genes.

      How might the contraceptive pill interfere with this?

      Levels of the sex hormones oestrogen and progesterone fluctuate throughout a woman’s monthly menstrual cycle. At the start of the cycle – when the egg is maturing – the body releases oestrogen. During the second half of the cycle, after the egg has been released and might implant, progesterone is secreted. A woman’s most fertile period comes in between these two phases, shortly before and immediately after the egg is released.

      Women’s preferences for certain male scents and features are thought to change during their cycle. For example, as they approach ovulation, women prefer men with more masculine features, possibly because these reflect high sexual potency and better genes. During non-fertile periods they prefer more feminine facial features and attributes, perhaps because such men may be more nurturing and therefore better at helping to raise children, even if they are not their own.

      The pill may throw a spanner in the works. It stops this cyclical release of oestrogen and progesterone, and so may interfere with women’s natural choice of partner. Some studies have suggested that while women usually prefer the scent of men with immune profiles dissimilar to their own, those on the pill preferred men with similar immune profiles.”

      in short, chicks high on pharmaceutical hormones (some from teen-age onwards) tend to go for men they have no real sexual chemistry with. what could possibly go wrong there?

      • StinkerBelle74

        Good point about the pill…I was only taking it for five years (much less time than some women) and noticed a marked decrease in my sex drive, which kind of negated the purpose of taking the pill in the first place. I wasn’t just disinterested in sexual relations with my husband, I wasn’t interested in sex of any sort. I was also unpredictable, moody, depressed, anxious, lethargic, and just generally miserable to be around. I tried different dosages, different estrogen/progesterone ratios, and although they all worked at preventing pregnancy, they also created a huge basket of other symptoms that I’m sure could have been diagnosed as some disorder or syndrome or another, with another medication with more side-effects that I would need more prescriptions to counteract…but instead I went off of the pill when I lost my medical insurance. Now, I enjoy a healthy sexual relationship with my husband, and my general state of being is much more stable, I feel much more “myself”, not someone manipulated by the fluctuating hormonal course given me by my doctors.

        • gemmarama

          i hear you dolly.

          i went on the pill at 17 and also completely lost interest in sex – which may indeed be a contraceptive, but isn’t exactly the desired effect. i also turned into a complete psycho, bursting into tears when part of the sunday paper was missing…

          when i stopped taking it a coupla years later, i suddenly felt like myself again – and found i was a year into a relationship with a “nice guy” i didn’t actually find very attractive. if i had persevered with taking the pill, who knows, maybe now i’d be married to him.

          i’m sure many women have similar experiences but feel unable to talk about them as the pill has been so successfully sold to us as an instrument of our liberation. germaine greer has written very insightfully about it, if i remember rightly in “the whole woman.”

  • Anonymous

    At the risk of sounding like some Crowley nut, sex is powerful magic. The fact that it has been comodified,
    trivialized, and for many the “magical” component has been squelched shows up as “dysfunction”.

    This powerful magic goes beyond procreation and into the realm of communion with the higher forces of nature or if you prefer, creation. I have been fortunate enough to experience this and to know the diference between the passions of the heart and lusts of the body. When the two are combined, “heaven” can be visited and consulted.
    I believe that certain religions are on some level aware of this and it threatens their power in the world. It shows up as acts of animal lust (molestation) in its heirarchy -devoid of the spiritual element of sexuality.
    Priests praying on the natural and innocent energy of children who have yet to be corrupted. They want a piece of what they are not. They are deeply ashamed and afraid to show it in any outwardly constructive way.

    Unless you have an actual physical problem with your body, most sexual “dysfunction” is due to incompatability with a mate, lack of communication, personal sexual shame issues (like some priests) and for men, believing you have to be a walking erection and be ready for sex all the time. In short, the “dysfunction”
    is psychological and not physical, therefore not requiring a pill to correct it.

  • myth_slayer

    The crucial point about this excellent post is that the criminal corporations, such as Pfizer (which, along with Eli Lilly, HCA and others) have paid billions of dollars in criminal fines — effectively making them Super-criminals and super-murderers.
    Of course, with the extraordinary financial interlocking relationships between the major banksters and private equity firms, and the pharmaceuticals and insurance industry, this will continue unabated until violent change takes place.
    The Rockefeller family (and their stooges, the Peter G. Peterson family), has long been heavily invested in the pharmaceutical industry, although the paid-for-play newsy whores*** continue the prevailing myth that the Rockefellers aren’t among the richest of families on the planet, but have somehow silently pissed away their fortune!
    Nope, violent change appears to be the only answer to return to the rule of law in America, Australia, the U.K. and elsewhere (with Iceland putting their former prime minister on trial, they evidently still practice the rule of law there, in the world’s oldest, and apparently still, democracy!).
    ***[This term in no way is meant to cast aspersion on sex workers, whom I would never insult in this manner.]

  • Anonymous

    The crucial point about this excellent post is that the criminal corporations, such as Pfizer (which, along with Eli Lilly, HCA and others) have paid billions of dollars in criminal fines — effectively making them Super-criminals and super-murderers.
    Of course, with the extraordinary financial interlocking relationships between the major banksters and private equity firms, and the pharmaceuticals and insurance industry, this will continue unabated until violent change takes place.
    The Rockefeller family (and their stooges, the Peter G. Peterson family), has long been heavily invested in the pharmaceutical industry, although the paid-for-play newsy whores*** continue the prevailing myth that the Rockefellers aren’t among the richest of families on the planet, but have somehow silently pissed away their fortune!
    Nope, violent change appears to be the only answer to return to the rule of law in America, Australia, the U.K. and elsewhere (with Iceland putting their former prime minister on trial, they evidently still practice the rule of law there, in the world’s oldest, and apparently still, democracy!).
    ***[This term in no way is meant to cast aspersion on sex workers, whom I would never insult in this manner.]

  • gemmarama

    couldn’t agree more.

    in fact, the existing pill may be part of the problem. from the new scientist:

    “What do we know about how women choose a mate?

    Recent studies have confirmed that women tend to prefer taut bodies, broad shoulders, clear skin and defined, masculine facial features – all of which may indicate sexual potency and good genes. Women also tend to be attracted to men who look as if they have wealth, or the ability to acquire it.

    Smell may also be a factor: women seem to prefer the scent of men who have immune systems dissimilar to their own, as measured by genes for the major histocompatibility complex (MHC). A number of companies have sprung up recently that even claim to be able to match couples on the basis of their genes.

    How might the contraceptive pill interfere with this?

    Levels of the sex hormones oestrogen and progesterone fluctuate throughout a woman’s monthly menstrual cycle. At the start of the cycle – when the egg is maturing – the body releases oestrogen. During the second half of the cycle, after the egg has been released and might implant, progesterone is secreted. A woman’s most fertile period comes in between these two phases, shortly before and immediately after the egg is released.

    Women’s preferences for certain male scents and features are thought to change during their cycle. For example, as they approach ovulation, women prefer men with more masculine features, possibly because these reflect high sexual potency and better genes. During non-fertile periods they prefer more feminine facial features and attributes, perhaps because such men may be more nurturing and therefore better at helping to raise children, even if they are not their own.

    The pill may throw a spanner in the works. It stops this cyclical release of oestrogen and progesterone, and so may interfere with women’s natural choice of partner. Some studies have suggested that while women usually prefer the scent of men with immune profiles dissimilar to their own, those on the pill preferred men with similar immune profiles.”

    in short, chicks high on pharmaceutical hormones (some from teen-age onwards) tend to go for men they have no real sexual chemistry with. what could possibly go wrong there?

  • http://voxmagi-necessarywords.blogspot.com/ VoxMagi

    keywords being ‘marginal healthy’…if it isn’t much of an obstacle…then its not really a problem…but if a persons sex drive is so low that they can’t maintain a physical relationship even with someone they’re extremely fond of…because attraction/sexuality is a locked door…then almost any help would be better than no help.

    I’m no cheering section for big pharma…since they can find a way to over hype and oversell just about anything…but I don’t feel comfortable with the line of attack suggesting that very real symptomology is all fictional and devised.

  • Sweet Jebus

    Drug companies have invented or exaggerated a huge variety of medical conditions which they proceed to “cure.” It’s marketing 101, create a demand for your product; the process is, in principle, little different from Disinfo’s book titles.”You Are Being Lied To” is intended to create a need for answers…

  • StinkerBelle74

    Good point about the pill…I was only taking it for five years (much less time than some women) and noticed a marked decrease in my sex drive, which kind of negated the purpose of taking the pill in the first place. I wasn’t just disinterested in sexual relations with my husband, I wasn’t interested in sex of any sort. I was also unpredictable, moody, depressed, anxious, lethargic, and just generally miserable to be around. I tried different dosages, different estrogen/progesterone ratios, and although they all worked at preventing pregnancy, they also created a huge basket of other symptoms that I’m sure could have been diagnosed as some disorder or syndrome or another, with another medication with more side-effects that I would need more prescriptions to counteract…but instead I went off of the pill when I lost my medical insurance. Now, I enjoy a healthy sexual relationship with my husband, and my general state of being is much more stable, I feel much more “myself”, not someone manipulated by the fluctuating hormonal course given me by my doctors.

  • gemmarama

    i hear you dolly.

    i went on the pill at 17 and also completely lost interest in sex – which may indeed be a contraceptive, but isn’t exactly the desired effect. i also turned into a complete psycho, bursting into tears when part of the sunday paper was missing…

    when i stopped taking it a coupla years later, i suddenly felt like myself again – and found i was a year into a relationship with a “nice guy” i didn’t actually find very attractive. if i had persevered with taking the pill, who knows, maybe now i’d be married to him.

    i’m sure many women have similar experiences but feel unable to talk about them as the pill has been so successfully sold to us as an instrument of our liberation. germaine greer has written very insightfully about it, if i remember rightly in “the whole woman.”

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