Sex in the News

Representative Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) is planning on introducing legislation that would make the posting or sharing of non-consensual pornography a federal crime. She is calling her proposed bill the “Intimate Privacy Protection Act.” The bill is aimed at reducing “revenge porn,” which is the act of posting or sharing of sexually explicit images online without consent of the depicted.

University of law professor Mary Anne Franks wrote in a Huffington Post article the term “revenge porn” is “misleading” because “while a number of cases do involve bitter exes whose express purpose is to harm or harass their former partners, many perpetrators don’t know their victims at all.” Franks further explains, “A more accurate term is non-consensual pornography, defined as the distribution of private, sexually explicit material without consent.”

Websites, such as Twitter and Reddit, have taken steps to stop the posting of non-consensual pornography. Google recently announced it would “allow people to petition for such images’ removal from search results” on its site. This is an interesting move on the part of these websites as federal law currently grants legal immunity to Internet service providers and online platforms for most content posted by third parties, with exceptions for child pornography, copyright infringements and sex-trafficking ads.

The advocacy groups Without My Consent and the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative have helped increase awareness of online privacy and both sites offer advice on what to do when someone is a victim of “revenge porn.”

The mission statement of Without My Consent, which appears in bold print on the group’s main website page states the group “empowers victims of egregious online privacy violations to lead the fight against online harassment.”

The Cyber Civil Rights Initiative has launched the campaign, End Revenge Porn, which seeks to “provide support and advocacy for victims of revenge porn, or people whose intimate photographs and/or videos have been disseminated on the internet without their consent.” In addition, this campaign is shedding light on victim blaming, in which the person who is featured in the pornography, but not consenting to its distribution, is blamed for the posting itself.

Opponents of Rep. Speier’s bill and its introduction on a federal level site “economic costs, resource allocation and civil liberties” as reasons for opposition to the proposed bill.

Sources: WTTS CBS 4 Indy, Huffington Post and various other websites


In June 2015, an expert panel of the Federal Drug Administration approved Sprout Pharmaceuticals’ drug flibanserin (Addyi™), which is used for the treatment of hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD) in premenopausal women. The medication aims to improve low or non-existent libido in these women.

It is interesting to note that the FDA advisory panel who voted on the approval of flibanserin voted 0-18-6 in favor of the drug. What this means is that the panel’s experts answered the question, “Is the overall benefit/risk profile of flibanserin acceptable to support approval for hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD) in premenopausal women? A. Yes, with labeling alone to manage the risks. B. Yes, but only if certain risk management options beyond labeling are implemented. C. No.”

The FDA has not given its final approval for flibanserin, which means the drug will not be available in pharmacies just yet. It is rare for the agency to ignore the suggestion of its expert panel.

Flibanserin was originally developed as a new antidepressant by German pharmaceutical company Boehringer Ingelheim, the makers of the idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis medication Ofev™ (nintedanib), which received FDA approval in October 2014, and the type-2 diabetes medication Jardiance™ (empagliflozin), which was approved by the FDA in April 2014.

After flibanserin failed miserably as an antidepressant, Boehringer brought the compound back to life as a treatment for HSDD in women. In 2009, the FDA unanimously rejected approval for flibanserin. After this set-back, Boehringer sold the rights to develop flibanserin to North Carolina-based Sprout Pharmaceuticals, which took the drug back to the FDA for approval in 2013. Again, the FDA rejected approval of the medication.

Approval of flibanserin came with specific conditions that Sprout Pharmaceuticals must comply with to ensure its drug is fully brought to market.

During the arguments given throughout the voting process, representatives of the FDA characterized the drug’s benefits as “numerically small but statistically significant” based on studies that showed women taking flibanserin had one more “sexually satisfying event” each month compared to women taking a placebo.

Flibanserin’s side effects include dizziness, nausea, drowsiness, low blood pressure and syncope (fainting). The drug interacts with alcohol, which can increase the risk of experiencing dizziness and fainting and potentially lead to dangerous falls.

Often incorrectly called “the pink Viagra” or “Viagra for women,” flibanserin affects neurotransmitters in the brain to improve libido. Viagra and other PDE-5 drugs in its medication class affect the cardiovascular system by increasing blood flow, which is why this class of drugs is considered to be vasodilators. Viagra takes effect in a few hours, while flibanserin takes weeks or months to show any benefits.

Sources: Forbes, Federal Group Administration, The People’s Pharmacy, PR Newswire



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