There’s a remarkable piece on the Hastings Center’s blog by Alycia Hogenmiller about a drug called Addyi. Addyi is a drug that doesn’t work to treat a condition that doesn’t exist, pushed by campaigners who are actually industry shills.
Sprout Pharmaceuticals, run by Cindy and Robert Whitehead, was determined to obtain regulatory approval for flibanserin (Addyi), an antidepressant-turned-aphrodisiac that had already twice failed to gain approval by the FDA. To create this fake feminist campaign, Sprout hired Blue Engine Media, a PR firm that created a sham organization called Even the Score. The campaign hired two feminists: a former director of the FDA Office of Women’s Health, and the former president of the Women’s Research and Education Institute – both well-known to women’s groups. Even the Score recruited and paid consumer advocacy groups to pressure the FDA into approving flibanserin for Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder – a condition previously created by industry to sell another drug.
I want to know more about those people hired. What were they thinking? What did they think they were doing? What weren’t they thinking?
It’s sad to see advocacy groups become mouthpieces for pharma. It is even sadder when those mouthpieces are feminist groups that should be protecting the interest of women but instead are protecting a company’s bottom line. Every single one of the advocacy groups that don’t take money from pharmaceutical companies opposed Addyi’s approval and use. For example, the National Women’s Health Network, the Jacobs Institute for Women’s Health, the National Center for Health Research, the Reproductive Health Technologies Project, and the New View campaign all publicly opposed the drug before and after approval. “This decision to approve flibanserin is a triumph of marketing over science,” said Cindy Pearson, head of the National Women’s Health Network.
Addyi was never a true symbol for gender equity. The drug doesn’t work well and was never safe.
Just roll back a bit…
Every single one of the advocacy groups that don’t take money from pharmaceutical companies opposed Addyi’s approval and use.
Several lessons can be learned from the story of Even the Score. First, don’t trust, support, or listen to purported consumer advocacy groups that take money from pharmaceutical companies.
Go and read the whole thing. It’s astonishing.
The conference in respect of which the post is written looks good, too.