Valeant close to buying 'female Viagra' maker Sprout for $1 bn

Canadian drug giant Valeant Pharmaceuticals International Inc is close to striking a deal to buy 'female Viagra' maker Sprout Pharmaceuticals for $1 billion, The Wall Street Journal today reported.

Sprout Pharmaceuticals drug, which aims to boost a woman's libido, yesterday received approval from the US Food & Drug Administration (FDA) for flibanserin under the brand name Addyi, which it plans to put in the market by October (See: US FDA approves ''female Viagra'' ).

The drug is for the treatment of acquired, generalised hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD) in premenopausal women.

Valeant, one of the most aggressive acquirers in the pharmaceutical industry, would pay $500 million in cash upfront and the remaining next year, the report said.

Sprout Pharmaceuticals Inc. and its pink libido pills that will be sold under the brand name Addyi, the person said.

Sprout Pharmaceuticals libido drug to be sold under the brand name Addyi is a once-daily, non-hormonal pill for the treatment of acquired, generalized hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD) in premenopausal women.

Addyi is the first and only FDA-approved treatment for this condition, the most common form of female sexual dysfunction, affecting up to 1 in 10 women in the US, and the drug will have 11 years of exclusivity before the patent expires.

The drug had been rejected by the FDA twice before due to the scant benefit it offered and the side-effects that came with it. A panel had, in June, recommended putting the drug-then known by its chemical name as flibanserin, on the market with certain safety warnings.

The approval appeared to be influenced by the company's argument that there were 26 FDA approved drugs to treat various sexual dysfunctions for men but there was not a single for women's most common sexual complaint.

Addyi, originally developed as an antidepressant failed to show efficacy, but some test subjects reported a higher libido that led to further development of the drug for treating low sexual desire in women.

Sprout's drug though nicknamed "female Viagra" in media reports, does not work like Pfizer Inc's blockbuster Viagra pill for men that in 1998 became the first approved drug for erectile dysfunction.

The North Carolina-based company had acquired the drug from Germany's Boehringer Ingelheim, which had given up on developing it further in late 2010.

Analysts estimate that the pink coloured drug may bring in annual sales of around $2 billion annually.