Lust pill Phd study paused over bias fears

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Publication of doctoral research into the effects of so-called "lust pills" on women has been delayed by the Utrecht University after television documentary program ZEMBLA raised concerns about the independence of the committee reviewing the research. Five members of the eight-member team of researchers and evaluators have direct connections to Almere drug company Emotional Brain, the creators of two drugs meant to treat women diagnosed with sexual dysfunctions like lack of arousal. Both drugs were reviewed in the study.

The broadcast, set to air Thursday on NPO 2,  drew attention to the fact that the PhD researcher is in management at Emotional Brain, while two of the doctoral candidate's evaluators are members of the drug company's board of directors. At the same time, two of the student's thesis advisors also advise Emotional Brain on scientific matters.

“The bottom line is that, of the eight people involved in this process, there are five with direct links to the company. That's too many," said Ruud Coolen van Brakel. Van Brakel, the director of the Dutch Institute for Rational Use of Medicine, pointed to the issues of independence facing the study when more than half of those involved have a direct interest in the product and company being reviewed.

“These people may be neutral and have integrity but this is not how it should be done,” he says in the broadcast.

After being contacted by the producers, Utrecht University temporarily suspended the research evaluation, saying that the committee did not meet their requirements.

Emotional Brain have begun development of a drug program for women with sexual dysfunction. The drugs called Lybrido and Lybridos are being developed for women who have hypoactive sexual desire disorder, experience insensitivity or have maladaptive sexual inhibitory mechanisms.

Emotional Brain did not respond to Zembla for comment.

"Sex op recept," translated to "Sex by Prescription," airs Thursday at 20:25.