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A desire booster for women?


3 Star

A desire booster for women?

Our Review Summary

This story skimmed the surface of issues that should be raised about trial results for a new supposed sexual desire-boosting drug.

 Good points: 

  • It stated that it’s not clear how the FDA would view the drug, given that an earlier drug with a similar success rate was rejected.
  •  It specified what the side effects were and – importantly – noted that 15% of women taking the drug in the study dropped out because of side effects. 

Weaker points:

  • Should we be getting our news from telephone conference calls with a principal investigator, rather than from peer-reviewed data or at least from multiple non-conflicted sources?
  • How were the key endpoints of the study – sexual desire, etc. – defined and measured?
  • Beyond the numbers, did the drug make a difference in women’s lives?
  • Why was a documentary filmmaker the only independent source quoted in the story?
  • Where was the expert perspective that certainly exists in medicine that would define this as disease-mongering? 


Does the story adequately discuss the costs of the intervention?

Not Applicable

No cost estimate was given.  But given that the drug hasn’t yet been submitted for approval to the FDA, we can understand that.

Does the story adequately quantify the benefits of the treatment/test/product/procedure?

Not Satisfactory

The story did quantify the results of one outcome – at least with data provided on a conference call – but it did not explain how these results were defined or measured.  And it did not seek comment on whether the "significantly higher scores" equates to any significant difference in any woman’s life.

Does the story adequately explain/quantify the harms of the intervention?


The story listed the most common side effects and, importantly, the 15% study dropout rate due to side effects.

Does the story seem to grasp the quality of the evidence?

Not Satisfactory

The story shared the data revealed in a conference call – without any comment on the limitations of drawing conclusions from data delivered that way – based on talks given at scientific meetings – results not yet published in peer-reviewed scientific journals. There was also no discussion of how "satisfying sexual event," "sexual desire," or "distress related to sexual functioning" was defined or measured. 

Does the story commit disease-mongering?

Not Satisfactory

Although the story included a quote with a documentary filmmaker who thought the drug was not a good idea, there was no specific discussion about whether "female sexual dysfunction" is a real condition or one created by drug companies to create a market for their products. It stated that "about one in 10 women are thought to suffer from sufficient lack of sexual desire for it to be distressing for them."  (Note:  the singular noun "one" deserves a singular verb "is") The story never attributed that "thought" to any source. 

Does the story use independent sources and identify conflicts of interest?

Not Satisfactory

The only non-conflicted source interviewed was a documentary filmmaker.  That doesn’t contribute the kind of independent expert perspective that a story like this requires.

Does the story compare the new approach with existing alternatives?


In an indirect way, the story addressed other approaches to any low libido that may exist – dealing with relationship problems and stress, for example.  The story barely meets the criterion on this matter.

Does the story establish the availability of the treatment/test/product/procedure?


The story states that the drug is experimental and that it’s not clear what the FDA would do if the drug is submitted for approval.

Does the story establish the true novelty of the approach?


The story alluded to the fact that "an earlier hormonal drug that produced a similar success rate was rejected." And it commented on the drug’s novel mode of action.

Does the story appear to rely solely or largely on a news release?


There’s no evidence that the story relied on a news release.

Total Score: 5 of 9 Satisfactory


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