This image provided by Amag Pharmaceuticals in June 2019 shows packaging for their drug Vyleesi. Picture: AP

Washington - US women will soon have another drug option designed to boost low sex drive: a shot they can give themselves in the thigh or abdomen that raises sexual interest for several hours.

The medication OKed by the Food and Drug Administration is only the second approved to increase sexual desire in a women, a market drugmakers have been trying to cultivate since the blockbuster success of Viagra for men in the late 1990s. The other drug is a daily pill.

The upside of the new drug "is that you only use it when you need it," said Dr. Julia Johnson, a reproductive specialist at UMass Memorial Medical Centre who was not involved in its development. "The downside is that it's a shot - and some people are very squeamish."

The drug's developer, Amag Pharmaceuticals, could also face some of the same hurdles that have plagued the lone pill previously approved for the condition, including unpleasant side effects and limited insurance coverage. The company declined to release price information.

The FDA approved the new drug, Vyleesi (pronounced vie-LEE'-see), for premenopausal women with a disorder defined by a persistent lack of interest in sex, causing stress. 

The most common side effect in company studies was nausea. The approval was based on women's responses to questionnaires that showed increases in sexual desire and decreases in stress related to sex. The women didn't report having more sex, the original goal for the drug.

"Women are not desiring more sex. They want better sex," said Dr. Julie Krop, Amag's chief medical officer.

AP