With Premature Ejaculation Pill, J&J Takes Another Step Into the Sex Biz

Last Updated Feb 11, 2009 11:13 AM EST

A unit of Johnson & Johnson has won approval to market a pill for premature ejaculation in Finland and Sweden. The company expects five more countries to follow suit.

There was a time when J&J's corporate image was like that of your mom, if your mom was a nurse: trustworthy, caring, and expert.

But in recent years J&J has expressed interest in increasingly outre businesses, like penis pills and boob jobs. In addition to this approval (the compound dapoxetine will be marketed as Priligy), the company also recently bought Mentor Corp., which makes breast implants, liposuction, and is developing a wrinkle-filler to compete with Restylane and Juvederm. That transaction cost the company $1.1 billion.

Here's a description of J&J's clinical development of the drug:
The drug extends intercourse time from a humbling two minutes to a still fairly humbling seven minutes, per a J&J-sponsored study. In that study, J&J claims, "wives and girlfriends timed intercourse with a stopwatch over a 12-week period." The company believes PE affects "27-34% of men across all age ranges."
J&J has tried hard to get dapoxetine to market. The company started doing PR for the drug back in 2005. At the time, Merrill Lynch analyst Katherine Martinelli bought the hype, hailing the drug as "the new Viagra" in The New York Sun. The drug, a repurposed short-acting antidepressant, was rejected by the FDA a couple of years ago, around the same time as concerns over antidepressant effectiveness and suicidal-thought side effects became a concern in the category.

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