Female Sexual Dysfunction No Ploy to Sell Viagra, Pfizer Says
Saturday, January 4, 2003
Pharmaceutical companies yesterday rejected a published account claiming they had invented a new disorder known as female sexual dysfunction to build a market for Viagra and similar drugs among women.
An article in the British Medical Journal said researchers with close ties to the industry had defined the new disorder at company-sponsored meetings over the past six years to encourage use of the same medicines that have helped men with impotence.
The author of the article, Australian Financial Review journalist Ray Moynihan, said widely reported statistics that 43 percent of women older than 18 had female sexual dysfunction were misleading.
He traced the origin of the definition of the condition to a May 1997 meeting of researchers and drug company representatives at a Cape Cod hotel.
Moynihan said the 43 percent figure gained prominence when two authors with ties to Viagra's maker, Pfizer Inc., used it in a 1999 article in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
The figure comes from a reanalysis of a 1992 survey of 1,500 women, who were asked whether they had experienced any of seven sexual difficulties for more than two months during the previous year.
The sexual difficulties included a lack of desire for sex, anxiety about sexual performance and difficulties with lubrication.
A Pfizer spokeswoman denied the allegations that the company invented female sexual dysfunction, saying that Viagra -- and upcoming rival products from Eli Lilly and Icos, and from Bayer and GlaxoSmithKline -- had yet to be approved for use in women.
Pfizer made $1.5 billion from Viagra in 2001.
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