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Spinning Sex Research

April 30th, 2005

Dr Petra

Last year Proctor and Gamble tried to get approval from the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) to further test and market their Intrinsa patch for female sexual dysfunction.

This patch was widely touted in the press, promised as a miracle cure for female sexual dysfunction.

However, closer inspection of the research behind the patch suggested it may have problematic side-effects, and in fact didn’t add to a marked increase in sexual activity.

Which is why many organisations, from the British Medical Journal to the FDA did not approve Intrinsa, and recommended further research on female sexual dysfunction and the Intrinsa patch.

You can find out more on the FDA hearings and the unpicking of the Intrinsa research at FSD-Alert.

Within the sexological community, we need to ensure our science is good, our methods are sound, and our findings aren’t a reason to sell a product, but to genuinely help people.

Having had your research routinely criticised would normally put off researchers seeking more publicity, but that doesn’t apply to drug companies with products to promote. So perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised to discover that Proctor and Gamble are going for a different tack with Intrinsa.

They’ve published their initial Intrinsa study data in the journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology. Although there’s an accompanying editorial in the journal that questions the clinical significance of Intrinsa, nevertheless this story has found its way onto Reuters under the heading ‘Male Hormones May Help Women After Hysterectomy’.

It went out at 7am (Eastern Time) on Reuters. Let’s watch and see what newspapers or broadcasters pick it up.

And let’s see which of them makes the link with the FDA’s refusal to support Intrinsa in it’s current state, or picks up on the widespread scientific criticism of the Intrinsa research.

Let’s see how many papers uncritically report this as a wonder drug for women, or whether there are more intelligent reporters who can identify this is just a recycled piece of research, trying to get promotion for a product that hasn’t yet been declared safe for use in post-menopausal women.

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