antidepressants, serendipity and sex

November 20, 2009

Extra post for today, since I missed yesterday’s post. Putting sex in the title is sure to attract more visitors.

Today  someone sent me this article – new antidepressant increases sex drive – about a new antidepressant called flibanserin. The article refers to the drug as a “female Viagra” but really it’s nothing like Viagra at all (which affects blood circulation) but works on the brain in a similar way to other antidepressants.

The aphrodisiac properties of the medication were discovered by accident, at the end of a research trial. Basically, women tried on this drug were doing everything they could to hold onto it at the end of the trial, so someone started asking the questions.

It seems funny to me that many of our major medical breakthroughs were discovered by accident. Penicillin is the obvious one, but also lithium for Bipolar disorder – I just can’t think of any others, but feel free to leave a comment if you know one.

Anyone who is familiar with our common antidepressants will know that they often cause problems with libido. The patient is sometimes left with a choice of being depressed, or having no sex life – a really fun choice, at that. I imagine this drug will be one to watch when it is finally released, which may be several years in Australia at least.

Another interesting antidepressant to watch is agomelatine, a melatonin agonist. Melatonin is an important hormone in regulating our sleep-wake cycle and insomnia is a huge feature (cause and effect) of depression. So this one will be an interesting drug for the treatment of depression and insomnia. It’s already available in the UK but not Australia or the USA.



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