Naked Came the Drug Companies: Media War Over "Female Sexual Disorder" Pills Shifts Into High Gear

Last Updated May 25, 2010 2:37 PM EDT

An interesting media contest is shaping up between Boehringer Ingelheim, which is developing a "Viagra for women" drug called flibanserin and Orgasm Inc., a documentary movie that gets its premiere in New York on May 27.

BI is trying furiously to medicalize low libido and inability to orgasm in women, whereas the movie is dedicated to debunking Big Pharma's attempt to rebrand the "low" end of female sexual behavior as "Female Sexual Dysfunction." The movie contains this fact:

... some 12 pharmaceutical companies in total were developing alternative cures for FSD.
Those companies included BI; Vivus (VVUS), which failed to win approval for Alista; Procter & Gamble (PG) which failed to win U.S. approval for Intrinsa; Pfizer (PFE), which failed to see any efficacy for Viagra in women and which also abandoned another drug candidate, UK-414,445; among a host of others from smaller companies.

Some of the interventions are alarming. The movie looks at Dr. Stuart Meloy's "Orgasmatron", an electrode surgically implanted in the spine. (It doesn't work, the movie says.)

BI is pressing on regardless. Although flibanserin is a long way from approval, the company has already set up a delightfuly bizarre web site to "help" women who believe they may have FSD. They've also signed actress Lisa Rinna as an endorser. BI is confident that its "educational toolkit" will be helpful:

After you've read the brochure, take a look at the flashcards. Consider using them with your partner or your friends, and learn about your own body along the way. Once you're done, you may feel inclined to hang the included privacy sign on your door knob when you and your partner would like some time alone.
Check out the trailer for Orgasm Inc. followed by a piece of PR B-roll featuring Rinna for BI: