News & Opinion | May 8, 2019 11:41 am

How ‘Female Viagra’ Is Capitalizing on the Feminist Movement

Addyi's critics have questioned the drug's efficacy and marketing strategy

viagra
Addyi is being compared to 'female Viagra,' but critics aren't convinced
(Getty Images)

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Sprout Pharmaceuticals’ “Right to Desire” drug campaign is touting Addyi as the female Viagra, but some have raised concerns that the controversial product is merely co-opting the feminist movement to push largely ineffective pills.

The drug is being advertised as a remedy for low female libido, but critics argue that the drug is selling an oversimplified remedy for a medical condition that doesn’t exist, CNN reported.

“This particular product should not have been approved by FDA, but it was, and it is not a product that adds value to women’s lives,” Susan Wood, former assistant commissioner for women’s health at the Food and Drug Administration, told the outlet.

The pill, which goes for $400 a month, was approved by the FDA in 2015 following a long, contentious battle. While the drug is often compared to Viagra because it’s related to sex, Addyi actually functions much differently than erectile dysfunction medication. While drugs designed to treat ED work by directing blood flow to the genitals, Addyi works in the brain to purportedly increase desire.

Experts have criticized the drug, arguing that a pill like Addyi oversimplifies a complicated issue that has many possible causes, many of which may not be medical.

“You take something that can occur from a wide range of reasons, some of which have nothing to do with physiological or medical problems, and you turn it into a medical problem, you give it a name and you sell a product to get rid of it,” Diana Zuckerman, the president of the National Center for Health Research, told CNN.

Addyi has also drawn ire for co-opting feminist language in its marketing, which touts female desire as a woman’s right and encouraging women to “demand gender equality when it comes to sexual health,” according to the drug’s Facebook page.

“[Sprout is] definitely appropriating all that language, making it seem like a feminist issue,” Dr. Steven Woloshin, a professor at the Dartmouth Institute, told CNN . “This is an issue that involves women, but that doesn’t mean that taking this drug is something you should do because you’re a feminist.”