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Cindy Whitehead, CEO Of Sprout (aka The “Female Viagra” Company), Is Stepping Down

The pill received FDA approval earlier this year but saw very low sales within its first month on the market.

Cindy Whitehead, CEO Of Sprout (aka The “Female Viagra” Company), Is Stepping Down
[Photo: Brad Barket/Getty Images for Fast Company]

The CEO of Sprout Pharmaceuticals, the company behind the “female Viagra” drug that received FDA approval earlier this year, is reportedly leaving the company. “I feel like I’ve seen it through to what I wanted to accomplish,” Cindy Whitehead said in an interview with Bizwomen. “It really was to prove the science, get the approval so that women could have this choice for themselves and then really to build the team to have it really come to the realization of the bigger mission, which is the opportunity for this to go global and to be made widely available to women in an affordable way.”

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But the drug for women, Addyi, hasn’t been a global phenomenon–compared to actual Viagra for men, Addyi’s sales have been pretty lackluster. Whitehead was a driving force behind Sprout’s hard-fought lobbying campaign accusing the FDA of discriminating against women when it twice rejected the approval for Addyi, a drug that’s meant to treat hypoactive sexual desire disorder in women. In August, the drug finally received FDA approval, becoming the first prescription drug to enhance women’s sexual drive. Shortly thereafter, Sprout was acquired by Valeant Pharmaceuticals for $1 billion. However, only 227 prescriptions were filled in its first month on the market. Back in 1998, over 500,000 Viagra prescriptions were sold.

A spokesperson for Valeant told Business Insider that Whitehead’s departure was a mutual decision. “Having built a team to take Addyi to market, we mutually agreed that it was the right time to transition to new leadership for the next phase of global commercialization.”

About the author

Jessica Hullinger is a London-based journalist who covers science, health, and innovation. She currently serves as a Senior Editor at TheWeek.com.

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