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US gives approval for 'female Viagra'

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The drug, flibanserin, under the trade name Addyi, nicknamed "female Viagra". Reuters/Sprout Pharmaceuticals/Handout

The drug, flibanserin, under the trade name Addyi, nicknamed "female Viagra". Reuters/Sprout Pharmaceuticals/Handout

The drug, flibanserin, under the trade name Addyi, nicknamed "female Viagra". Reuters/Sprout Pharmaceuticals/Handout

A controversial drug to treat low sexual desire in women has won approval from US health regulators, but with a warning about potentially dangerous low blood pressure and fainting when taken with alcohol.

Moreover, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said the first approved drug for the condition, to be sold under the brand name Addyi, will only be available through certified health care professionals and pharmacies.

The FDA has twice rejected the drug, flibanserin, made by Sprout Pharmaceuticals. Its latest decision comes after an advisory panel concluded in June that it should be approved with strict measures in place.

The drug has been nicknamed "female Viagra", even though it does not work like Pfizer's pill for men that in 1998 became the first approved drug for erectile dysfunction.

Flibanserin needs to be taken daily. Unlike Viagra, which affects blood flow to the genitals, flibanserin works on the brain.

It is similar to a class of drugs known as selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors, or SSRI's, that include antidepressants such as Prozac.

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