Sprout Relaunches Female Sex Drive Pill Addyi at Half the Price Charged Under Valeant
After failing to gain market share under the umbrella of Valeant Pharmaceuticals, Addyi is getting a relaunch at half the price. The female sex-drive drug is back in the hands of its developers and is now being sold through a telehealth program.
Addyi will be sold for $400 per month, down from the $800 price tag set by Valeant. For those who are uninsured or who have insurance programs that do not cover Addyi, there is a payment plan for $99, Bloomberg reported last week.
Sprout Chief Executive Officer Cindy Eckert (formerly known as Cindy Whitehead) told Forbes that she believed women needed to have the option to address their sexual drive through Addyi if they so choose. That was why she, and others, fought so hard for the reemergence of Sprout and Addyi.
Addyi was approved in 2015 by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and Quebec-based Valeant, at the height of its M&A spree, plunked down $1 billion to acquire North Carolina-based Sprout. After two previous attempts, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Addyi for a low sex drive, called hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD) in premenopausal women. Unlike the drug’s oft-compared male counterpart Viagra, Addyi addresses desire, not performance. Another difference between male erectile dysfunction drugs, Addyi is a once-daily dose that takes some time before the patient begins to see a difference in sexual desire. In clinical trials, patients began to show desire after about four weeks.
Following Valeant’s acquisition, Eckert, then known as Whitehead, stepped down from her role at Sprout. But, Eckert returned to a newly-formed Sprout at the end of 2017 as the company regained control over Addyi.
When it was under the Valeant umbrella Addyi failed to find traction with prescribers. Marketing under Valeant was so poor that Sprout shareholders filed a lawsuit against the Canadian company over marketing practices of Addyi – including dumping the sales team who were specially trained to market the drug and doubling its price. When initially approved, Sprout said the medication will only be able to be prescribed by pharmacies certified by North Carolina-based company and will require training on counseling patients on the risks and side effects, especially the interaction with alcohol.
Late last year though, Valeant washed its hands of Addyi. Valeant, which is dealing with debt issues from its M&A heavy days, announced it had divested Sprout to a buyer affiliated with former shareholders of the company in exchange for a 6 percent royalty on all global sales of Addyi for 18 months following the agreement.
With the reduction in price, Eckert told Forbes she wanted to keep the prescription medicine on par with male erectile dysfunction drugs. In her interview, Eckert said it was important for women to have control over their sexuality and their bodies.
“For me, women who have a medical condition deserve access to a medical treatment. Take the drug or don't take the drug, but by God, it's your choice,” she says. “I hope that when we look back decades from now, we've gone a long way to change the proactive medical conversation with women. But in the interim, particularly in this period of activism, I believe that women will demand their own right to desire,” Eckert told Forbes.