Flibanserin: a serendipitous story

Melvin George, Damal Kandadai Sriram, Venkatesan Surendran


Female sexual disorders are increasingly being recognized in the population and hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD) is one of the commonest sexual disorders among females. The prevalence of the disease varies between 10-20% in the Caucasian population. Testosterone is the only treatment that is approved by the European Medical Agency. Flibanserin is a drug that has been approved by the US FDA for HSDD among pre-menopausal women in 2015. Flibanserin is a 5-HT1A receptor agonist and 5-HT2A receptor antagonist that rebalances the neural circuitry involved in processing sexual desire by reducing serotonin activity and enhancing dopamine and epinephrine activity. The efficacy of the drug was confirmed in three pivotal randomized placebo control trials in premenopausal women who consumed the drug for 24 weeks. There was a significant improvement in the number of sexually satisfying events. The most common safety concerns for flibanserin as seen in clinical trials were somnolence, hypotension and syncope. The drug is prescribed at a dose of 100 mg once daily at bed time. The marginal efficacy of the drug coupled with other safety concerns, such as hypo-tensions have given room for much criticism over the drug’s approval by the FDA. Nevertheless, on a positive note the serendipitous discovery of flibanserin and its repurposing for HSDD is a compelling narrative in its drug development history. It remains to be seen if the long term safety of the molecule and the efficacy of the molecule in non-trial settings could make it an attractive pharmaco-therapeutic option for HSDD.


Flibanserin, HSDD, FSFI, SSE, eDairy score

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