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Barbara Gattuso: Shoot, I was waking up in the middle of the night. You know how a man usually wakes up in the middle of the night? I was waking up in the middle of the night.
Kaushal Patel: Barbara Gattuso is reminiscing about having the desire to have sex with her husband again.
Barbara: It was good. It was very good, very, very good.
Kaushal: Gattuso experienced a window of pleasure during a six-week clinical trial for the little pink pill, flibanserin, the so-called 'female Viagra', that helped reignite her libido. The pill has been rejected by the FDA twice now.
Barbara: Even the gynecologist, my gynecologist said, "Oh, my goodness, I see such a change in you."
Kaushal: Gattuso has been married for more than 40 years to her husband, Greg. They've been through a lot together.
Greg Gattuso: Let's see what they sent us from Vina Robles.
Barbara: I love Vina Robles.
Greg: It's the best.
Kaushal: The loss of their home in the Witch Creek Fire, his battle with throat cancer, and even his erectile dysfunction, which was brought on by diabetes.
Barbara: I think that we can just about do anything, survive anything.
Greg: Yeah, we might make it for the duration.
Kaushal: Barbara is in love, and happy, and has been.
Greg: Beautiful day. We could go down to the beach.
Kaushal: But, for the last 25 years, her sex drive has gone into neutral.
Barbara: It makes you just feel awful. It makes you feel like you're not a total woman, like your husband is wondering, "What did I do? What's wrong with me?" You know, and you try to explain, "There's nothing wrong with you." "Well, then, why is this happening?" "I don't know." It's like a vicious circle here.
Kaushal: One of the nation's top experts in the field of sexual medicine, Dr. Irwin Goldstein, helped Pfizer develop its blockbuster little blue pill, Viagra.
Dr. Irwin Goldstein: It was only in the FDA for six months, only a few thousand patients, the follow-up was just a few years, and it was fast-tracked through the system and approved.
Kaushal: Seventeen years later, he's baffled as to why there's still nothing approved by the FDA on the market to help women with their low libido.
Dr. Goldstein: If a woman has a sexual problem, what does she do? She goes to a doctor who says, "There's nothing that the FDA's approved. Everything I'd have to do is off-label. I'm not comfortable doing that." Then, the woman would actually feel worse because she's tried and now humiliated.
Kaushal: Dr. Goldstein conducted clinical trials for flibanserin and describes how it works.
Dr. Goldstein: The drug flibanserin acts to change the brain chemistry, in particular three brain chemicals called serotonin, which it lowers, dopamine, which it raises, and norepinephrine (or adrenaline), which it increases. It's a fabulous combination.
Kaushal: After 13 years of waiting to bring flibanserin to market, it could happen as early as the end of this summer. Sprout Pharmaceuticals has submitted a third bid for approval to the FDA. With the application came a stack of reports based on clinical trials with 11,000 women and more safety studies. Gattuso is hoping the third time is the charm.
Barbara: It is a medication that works. The side effects are so minimal, like sleepiness, maybe a headache. I didn't get any of that. Compared to the positive result of that medication and to turn around your whole sex life, you know, there is no reason that that medication should not be available to women.
Kaushal: Kaushal Patel, U-T TV.
Greg: Sounds good.
Barbara: Okay. That sounds great.
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