Bremelanotide: New Drug Approved for Treating Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder

Ann Pharmacother. 2020 Jul;54(7):684-690. doi: 10.1177/1060028019899152. Epub 2020 Jan 1.


Objective: To review data regarding bremelanotide, a recently approved therapy for hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD). Data Sources: Literature search of Medline, SCOPUS, and EMBASE was performed using the search terms bremelanotide, bremelanotide injection, Vyleesi, and melanocortin 4 receptor agonist between January 1, 1996, and December 15, 2019. Reference lists from included articles were also reviewed for pertinent citations. Study Selection/Data Extraction: We included phase 2 and 3 trials of bremelanotide. There were 2 reports of phase 3 trials and 2 reports of phase 2 trials. Additional information from supplementary analyses was also referenced. Data Synthesis: Bremelanotide demonstrates significant improvement in desire and a significant decrease in distress related to lack of desire. The most common adverse effects include nausea (39.9%), facial flushing (20.4%), and headache (11%). Relevance to Patient Care and Clinical Practice: Bremelanotide is the second Food and Drug Administration-approved medication for the treatment of HSDD. Bremelanotide's place in therapy is unknown, as the HSDD guidelines were last updated in 2017. Although the trials met statistical significance for change in sexual desire elements and distress related to sexual desire, the clinical benefit may only be modest. Conclusion: Bremelanotide is a subcutaneous injection that can be administered as needed approximately 45 minutes prior to sexual activity. Bremelanotide is safe and has limited drug-drug interactions, including no clinically significant interactions with ethanol. Prescribing guidelines recommend no more than 1 dose in 24 hours and no more than 8 doses per month. Individuals should discontinue use after 8 weeks without benefit.

Keywords: HSDD; Vyleesi; bremelanotide; melanocortin 4 receptor agonist.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Drug Interactions
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Injections, Subcutaneous
  • Libido / drug effects*
  • Nausea / chemically induced
  • Peptides, Cyclic / administration & dosage
  • Peptides, Cyclic / adverse effects
  • Peptides, Cyclic / pharmacokinetics
  • Peptides, Cyclic / therapeutic use*
  • Receptor, Melanocortin, Type 3 / agonists
  • Receptor, Melanocortin, Type 4 / agonists
  • Sexual Dysfunctions, Psychological / drug therapy*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • alpha-MSH / administration & dosage
  • alpha-MSH / adverse effects
  • alpha-MSH / pharmacokinetics
  • alpha-MSH / therapeutic use*


  • MC3R protein, human
  • MC4R protein, human
  • Peptides, Cyclic
  • Receptor, Melanocortin, Type 3
  • Receptor, Melanocortin, Type 4
  • alpha-MSH
  • bremelanotide