New Drug for Lost Libido

If and when bremelanotide makes it to market, it will be administered as a single-use nasal spray.

That way, it goes straight to the brain and avoids being broken down in the digestive system.

Dr. Annette Shadiack, Director of Research at Palatin, says the results last six hours or eight hours, with the onset as early as 30 minutes.

Drug Abuse Concerns

But bremelanotide likely will encounter tough resistance on its way to receiving approval from the Food and Drug Administration.

One concern is abuse. Some young partyers have been known to mix Viagra with Ecstasy for recreational use.

"I think that there'll be enormous sales over the Internet. I think that there'll be sales in bars, on street corners," said sexual psychologist Leonore Tiefer, associate clinical professor of psychiatry at the New York University's School of Medicine. "Certainly when the thing is first approved, I think it will be widely misused."

In 2004, Tiefer helped block FDA approval for Proctor & Gamble's hormone patch Intrinsa, which was being touted as the female Viagra.

Besides the potential for abuse, she also worries about the overall impact of these sorts of drugs on the culture.

In particular, she's worried about the way it will be marketed.

"It raises the bar on performance expectations. So that women, couples, will somehow feel that if arousal, orgasm, desire, is not a regular routine, every day, every week, womb-to-tomb kind of thing that there is something wrong with you," Tiefer said.

"If women do go in with that message, their physician should clearly tell them that this is not what this is for," said Palatin CEO Spana. "It's for women who feel a real lack of desire, real lack of ability to get aroused."

Back in his lab in Montreal, Pfaus says he thinks women should have the option, but he hopes bremelanotide will give women confidence, not doubt.

"Women don't need another thing staring at them from a billboard telling them that they are not good enough," Pfaus said.

"But I think that if the drug is available for people who actually have true desire disorders that are defined by a psychiatrist and a clinical psychologist, then we're talking about a different group of people," he said.

But Pfaus says critics should not be overly concerned about bremelanotide's potency.

"This is not going to make people have orgies in the street," he said.

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