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11 October 2010

Plug pulled on pink Viagra

Boehringer Ingelheim has stopped developing a drug dubbed the "pink Viagra" after failing to convince US regulators the experimental pill could boost women's sex drive.

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German drug maker Boehringer Ingelheim has stopped developing a drug dubbed the "pink Viagra" after failing to convince US regulators the experimental pill could boost women's sex drive.

"The decision was not made lightly, considering the advanced stage of development," chief executive Andreas Barner said on Friday of the hoped-for money-spinner aimed at premenopausal women with a persistent and unexplained lack of sex drive.

Boehringer's move marked the failure of the latest attempt to find a female counterpart to Pfizer's Viagra, the blockbuster blue pill for men. Drug makers have tested various ways to boost female libido, but women's sex lives have proved difficult to target with medication.

Little help to women

US government advisers said in June that Boehringer's pink pill, based on the active ingredient flibanserin, offered little help to women and had unacceptable risks - nearly 15% of women stopped taking a pill before a study ended due to side effects including depression, fainting and fatigue.

That led the US Food and Drug Administration to ask Boehringer in August for more information on flibanserin, which would have been marketed as Girosa.

"The response of the authorities and the complexity and extent of further questions that would need to be addressed to potentially obtain registration for flibanserin have impacted the company's decision to focus on other pipeline projects," Boehringer said.

Drug makers have been searching for a medicine to improve women's sex lives since Viagra's debut 12 years ago. The market for a "pink Viagra" could stretch into the billions of dollars. (Reuters Health/ October 2010)

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