Movie Preview: Orgasm Inc

The film’s official web site provides this synopsis:
In the shocking and hilarious documentary, filmmaker Liz Canner takes a job editing erotic videos for a drug trial for a pharmaceutical company. Her employer is developing what they hope will be the first Viagra drug for women that wins FDA approval to treat a new disease: Female Sexual Dysfunction (FSD). Liz gains permission to film the company for her own documentary. Initially, she plans to create a movie about science and pleasure but she soon begins to suspect that her employer, along with a cadre of other medical companies, might be trying to take advantage of women (and potentially endanger their health) in pursuit of billion dollar profits. Orgasm Inc. is a powerful look inside the medical industry and the marketing campaigns that are literally and figuratively reshaping our everyday lives around health, illness, desire — and that ultimate moment: orgasm.

This documentary was premiered in 2009 at the Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival in Toronto. Since then it has been shown at other festivals but will not be out as a general release in theatres until February 10, 2011.

I started this article with the intention of "previewing" an up-coming film however one thing has led to another and now the entire question about the existence of a "female Viagra" has come up. Does such a thing exist?

The Drugs
There seems to have been a number of drugs proposed as the "female Viagra" over the years including FlibanseinIntrinsaBremelanotide and Melanotan II. Do they work?

I note that the advisory panel to the FDA in the United States did not recommend granting approval for the drug Flibanserin. As of October 2010, the pharmaceutical company Boehringer Ingelheim GmbH has stopped its development of the drug.

Intrinsa, a testosterone patch developed by Procter & Gamble designed to treat Female Sexual Dysfunction (FSD) is apparently available in Europe but was rejected by the FDA in the United States.

Nevertheless, the desire of the public for something may not have abated despite a lack of approval from the government. The following web site offers to sell the drug Sildenafil as female Viagra, Sildenafil being the original drug sold to men as Viagra.

FemaleViagra.Org
This web site sells the drug with the following information:

Women’s health
Female Viagra (Sildenafil) is scientifically formulated to provide intense sexual satisfaction for women seeking ultimate pleasure.

Drug Uses
Female Viagra represents a serious approach to the problem of female sexual arousal disorder (FSAD) and female sexual dysfunction (FSD), formulated scientifically to provide satisfaction in terms of sexual needs and lasting pleasure.

Benefits:

  • increased the level of testosterone in the blood;
  • boosted libido in hundreds of women;
  • boosted sexual recall;
  • extreme sensitivity to stimulation;
  • extraordinary and multiple climaxes;
  • effective in women with a hysterectomy and menopause before the age of 50.

How Taken
Female Viagra is an oral prescription; this drug starts working after 45 minutes after its intake. The effect usually lasts up to 4 to 6 hours. Exceeding its recommended dosage may increase its side effects.

Drug Class and Mechanism
Female Viagra starts working by increasing the required genital blood flow, along with vaginal compliance which results in intensified pleasure during sexual activity. Women taking the medicine experience increased blood circulation and sensitivity in the vaginal region and this in turn leads to perfect natural lubrication and increased rate of success during intercourse. Symptoms and conditions effecting women can be based on physiological or psychological factors and this treatment can aid in both.

Is any of this true?
Are we all looking for a "quick fix"? Are we being duped by the pharmaceutical companies into believing that a problem can be solved as easily as popping a pill?

The Winnipeg Free Press reviews the book Sex, Lies and Pharmaceuticals by Ray Moynihan and Barbara Mintzes where the authors examine the hype of FSD (female sexual dysfunction) and how drug companies are hoping to cash in on a public looking for a "new pill". The review states:

Medicine and psychology, they argue, has never understood the intricacies of female sexuality. Instead, the world enforces norms of sexual behaviour — vaginal orgasms, libidos that defy crushingly busy schedules — not shared by the majority of women.

The web site HowStuffWorks.Com discusses the question of "female Viagra" by writing:

A woman’s lack of sexual interest is often tied to her relationship with her partner, says Sandra Lieblum, director for sexual and marital health at the UMDNJ Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in Piscataway, N.J. "The important sex organ [for women] is between the ears. Men need a place for having sex — women need a purpose," she says. But it can also be triggered by family concerns, illness or death, financial or job worries, childcare responsibilities, managing a career and children, previous or current physical and emotional abuse, fatigue and depression.

Indeed, female sexual dysfunction seems to be psychologically — rather than physically — rooted. "What the genitals are doing may play a less important role in how a woman defines her sexual arousal," says Cindy Meston, assistant professor of clinical psychology at the University of Texas at Austin. "I don’t think there will ever be an aphrodisiac that will make [women] want to have sex all the time."

That’s not to say its causes aren’t physical, Lieblum says. Hypertension, heart disease, cancer, diabetes, thyroid disorders, neurological diseases and autoimmune disorders like lupus can all contribute to a woman’s lack of sexual desire. Other factors include prescriptions drugs, particularly anti-hypertensives and depression medication, as well as over-the-counter medications and illegal drugs and alcohol abuse.

The web site goes on to say:

Whether drug companies succeed [in finding a female Viagra], the good news is that women needn’t wait for a sex pill. They have options. Research shows that exercise, counselling, vaginal lubrication products and sex videos all can help put spur a woman’s libido.

Final Word
The film Orgasm Inc. looks interesting and I have every intention of seeing it when it hits the screens here in Toronto. As an aside, I can say some of the best films I have seen in the past year have been documentaries: reality is stranger / better / more interesting than fiction. (see my reviews of Inside JobWaiting for Superman, and Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer)

Orgasm Inc.: official release date: February 10, 2011

Click HERE to read more from William Belle

References

Rotten Tomatoes: Orgasm Inc.: not yet rated
set for release on February 10, 2011

Wikipedia: Orgasm Inc.

official web site: Orgasm Inc.

Wikipedia: Liz Canner

Wikipedia: Hot Docs

The Winnipeg Free Press: Book Review
An unsexy look at pharma push for ‘female Viagra’
Reviewed by: Melissa Martin – Dec 18/2010
Book: Sex, Lies and Pharmaceuticals
Authors: By Ray Moynihan and Barbara Mintzes
Publisher: Greystone, 257 pages, $22

Videos

YouTube: WCVB TV – Nov 17/2009
There could be new hope for women who suffer from low libido in the form of an antidepressant being hailed by some as Viagra for women.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=amw7ySGF2iU

YouTube: CBS news (there’s an advertisement before the clip)
What is it? – June 11, 2010
Flibanserin, the female libido enhancing drug, has been shrouded in controversy but if the FDA approves it, it could translate into a $2 billion market in the U.S. alone. Dr. Jennifer Ashton reports.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fBqqRGngZL0

CBS Video: CBS news (there’s an advertisement before the clip)
FDA rejects drug – June 18, 2010
An outside panel of doctors organized by the FDA has voted against approval of Flibanserin, a new drug designed to boost women’s libido. Michelle Miller reports.

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