Will P&G Pharma Auction End the Company's Pursuit of "Viagra for Women"?

Last Updated Dec 11, 2008 5:31 PM EST

Procter & Gamble's desire to get out of the prescription pharmaceutical business either by selling its brands or managing them through their natural declines raises the question of whether this will finally kill P&G's longtime, ill-fated interest in creating a version of Viagra for women. BNET readers will remember that P&G signed a deal back in August with Noven Pharmaceuticals to develop a testosterone patch for women to boost their sex drives. The deal is notable because P&G's brand equity is squarely located among home-oriented, family brands; not revving it up in the bedroom.

The Noven deal came after P&G previously acquired rights to Intrinsa, another testosterone patch, that the FDA rejected. It's approved in Europe. P&G spokesperson Tom Millikin tells BNET that "we remain in discussions with the FDA" regarding the fate of Intrinsa.

Meanwhile, Noven is ploughing forward with the new P&G sex patch.

In August 2008, Noven entered into global license and supply agreements with Procter & Gamble Pharmaceuticals, Inc. relating to the development and commercialization of prescription transdermal patches for the treatment of Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder ("HSDD") in women.
Here's some detail from Noven's Q3 earnings call:
Currently, we're working to advance 12 to 16 transdermal projects. All are active projects but not all are assigned the same priority. Five of them are partnered projects. Two are in development with Procter & Gamble Pharmaceuticals. The first of these you know about, it is a low dose testosterone patch for hypoactive sexual desire disorder. And the second is a follow-on product for the same indication. Noven's role in the transdermal formulation and development of the testosterone patch is complete.
In August, we announced the execution of a global license and supply agreement with P&G Pharmaceuticals for products in this category. Our agreements prevent us from going into more detail about the status of these projects but the selection of Noven by P&G certainly serves to confirm the value of our transdermal technology.
BNET's take: Potential acquirers should beware of being seduced by the siren call of a sex drug for women. Companies look at the success of Viagra and think, "Hey, if only we could do that with the other half of the market!" But the category is a Bermuda triangle for companies -- many have entered, all most have disappeared trying. In addition to Intrinsa, M.I.A. female-sex-drug brands include Pfizer's Viagra itself (a small study in depressed women; the company denies it is pursuing the market), QualiLife's Zestra (out of business. Oops! Zestra is now owned by Semprae Labs and is still in business -- apologies for the error), BioSante's LibiGel (still in testing), and Berkeley's Avlimil (a scam brand).