Drug Watch: New Addyi Marketing Campaign, “Find My Spark”

So for those of you who remember Addyi (aka Flibanserin, the anti-HSDD drug that went through a lot of controversy over it’s FDA approval and has been warily watched by the ace community), the company that produces it (Valeant) has launched a marketing campaign called “find my spark” (associated website is here).

The drugmaker also announced it would re-launch its sexual dysfunction pill Addyi. Separately, Valeant announced a new campaign, Find My Spark, that was developed in tandem with the American Sexual Health Association.

Valeant acquired Addyi in its buyout of Sprout Pharmaceuticals in 2015 for $1 billion. Addyi received FDA approval the same month as a treatment for hypoactive sexual disorder in premenopausal women.

The campaign’s website, findmyspark.com, offers a sex health quiz and talking tips for patients to discuss hypoactive sexual disorder with their doctor but does not specifically mention the drug. Valeant plans to kick off the re-launch of Addyi in March, according to its earnings presentation.

This is definitely something that the ace community should keep an eye on.

The site doesn’t sell Addyi specifically, but rather encourages women to talk to their doctors about FSD (female sexual dysfunction, the salesy term for HSDD, FSIAD, lubrication  or vaginal pain problems, and related sexual disorders that all get lumped together regardless of whether the etiology is at all similar) – which if anything is probably more concerning for us in the ace community. This big push is likely in response to the lackluster sales of Addyi so far (because, you know, it’s expensive, barely effective, and the problems it “treats” are half made up), and the fact that the FDA’s limits on early marketing have now long expired.

I haven’t had a chance to take  deep dive into the site’s contents yet, but at first glance it’s not encouraging.
Example: literally the first quote on their personal stories page is

“I wanted to want sex because my husband is very sexual and we had had a great sex life when we were younger.”

And if you’re thinking “well, it could be worse” the second quote is:

“I have an amazing husband, three incredible children and a wonderful life. The only thing missing: I never wanted to have sex…we had sex, usually a couple of times a week. And while I did it, part of me dreaded it. Every time.”

They also have a “my sexual health” quiz, and 95% of the results ended with the captcha code not working (bad web design?) or other technical glitches, but on the two that went through, one suggested that I probably did not have FSD, but one did. I’ll try to play around and see if I can figure out what responses trigger what suggestions. notably, it sends you to the “learn more about FSD” page no matter what answer you pick.

Result

Don’t hold us to this, but based on your score it seems likely that you don’t have a female sexual dysfunction (FSD or female sexual difficulty). Of course, only a licensed sex therapist or healthcare provider can tell you for certain. In the meantime, learn more about FSD.

Result

Excuse our bedside manner, but based on your results, something may be bothering you. Only a licensed sex therapist or healthcare provider can tell you what though. In the meantime, learn more about female sexual dysfunction (FSD or female sexual difficulties).

(These are the two answers I was able to see – not sure if there are additional options or not)

That actual “learn more” page is *slightly* better – it at least includes semi-acknowledgments like “There are some who are satisfied just getting their cuddle on”, but there’s still an overall theme of “sex is great! Everyone likes sex (at least a little)! And if you don’t, we can fix that!” that makes those comments a little too late.

The FAQ does include the question, “If I don’t want sex, is there something wrong with me?” to which the answer is:

Every woman’s libido is different. Some women keep their libido and some women experience dips as they age. Also, the stress of daily life, relationship issues, and hormonal changes as a result of menopause can impact your libido.

While it could have been worse (the lowest bar of all to pass), they rather conspicuosly don’t have anything that actually indicates “having low libido doesn’t necessarily mean something is wrong with you”. And of course, no acknowledgment of asexuality anywhere, but tbh I am less surprised by that – I don’t have high expectations from this group.

(on a side note, I am also a bit miffed that they seemed to be going for a black/purple/white color scheme. Like, really?)

I’ll try to post some more thorough commentary once I get a chance to explore things a bit more, but in the meantime, if anyone else has thoughts I’d love to hear about it in the comments.

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About Sennkestra

I'm an aromantic asexual and a bit of an [a]sexuality nerd, recently graduated from UC Berkeley with a BA in linguistics. When I'm not reading stuff on the internet I like to cook fancy food, watch anime, and make costumes and other arts and crafts projects.
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9 Responses to Drug Watch: New Addyi Marketing Campaign, “Find My Spark”

  1. Sennkestra says:

    Commenting on my own post to add another point of concern – on the FSD facts page, it states “FSD is defined as persistent problems with sexual response, desire, orgasm, or pain that causes you distress or strains your relationship with your partner. While every woman deserves a fulfilling sex life, more than 40% of women will have sexual difficulties at some point in their lives.

    Specifically, I’m zeroing in on the phrase “or strains your relationship with your partner” – this is a problem for the same reason that “interpersonal difficulties” were a problem for HSDD the last time it went through revisions. If you relationship is being strained because your partner wants you to have sex with them more, that’s not a problem that needs to be solved with drugs, that’s a problem with your partner being an ass.

  2. queenieofaces says:

    It diagnosed me as having FSD, despite the fact that I said I was very satisfied with my level of sexual activity???

    • Sennkestra says:

      Oh, it looks like they fixed the captcha problem, so I can start reverse-engineering it now!

      ….but yeah, if I put “very satisfied with my sex life” (the most satisfied option available), and just put “no sexual activity” / “did not attempt intercourse” for everything else, it recommends that I might have a problem >:(

      (so much for having a supposed distress requirement, as faulty as those are already)

  3. Pingback: Linkspam: March 3rd, 2017 | The Asexual Agenda

  4. Sennkestra says:

    Oh, and of course the sexuality org that’s co-sponsoring it does the A for ally thing too: http://www.ashasexualhealth.org/sexual-health/lgbtq/

    I’m guessing this is more ignorance than hostility, and I’ll give them more benefit of the doubt than I’ll give to Valeant (still not much), but uh…..if anyone wants to collab on an open letter at some point…hit me up I guess.

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