Men: Have a weirdly curved you-know-what? The FDA has a drug for you

The Food and Drug Administration approved a drug to treat Peyronie’s disease for the first time Friday. The condition can cause the male organ to curve dramatically when erect.

Doctors aren’t quite sure what causes Peyronie’s disease, though trauma during vigorous sex is one possible explanation. The curvature results from scar tissue inside the penis, which Xiaflex breaks down. A course of treatment consists of eight injections and four “penile modeling procedure[s].”

Somewhere between 5 and 10 percent of men have Peyronie’s disease, although for most of them, the curvature is hardly noticeable.

For others, the condition is more severe. “We joke around about it, but to someone who is in a relationship or attempting to be in a relationship who can’t perform sexually, this is a completely life-altering problem,” said Ryan Berglund, a Cleveland Clinic urologist. “You think about it all the time,” he said.

Xiaflex will give patients and doctors an alternative to surgery, which is the typical treatment for Peyronie’s disease. Surgery can cause erectile dysfunction and can shorten the penis.

Yet Xiaflex can also cause serious injury, and because of the risks, the FDA will only allow specially trained physicians and certified hospitals to administer it.

Shares of the drug’s manufacturer, Auxilium Pharmaceuticals of Chesterbrook, Pa., rose about 12 percent following the approval.

The FDA originally approved Xiaflex in 2010 to treat Dupuytren’s contracture, a disease that prevents patients from fully extending their fingers. The drug is an enzyme derived from a bacterium.

Max Ehrenfreund writes for Wonkblog and compiles Wonkbook, a daily policy newsletter. You can subscribe here. Before joining The Washington Post, Ehrenfreund wrote for the Washington Monthly and The Sacramento Bee.

national

health-science

Success! Check your inbox for details. You might also like:

Please enter a valid email address

See all newsletters

Comments
Show Comments

Sign up for email updates from the "Confronting the Caliphate" series.

You have signed up for the "Confronting the Caliphate" series.

Thank you for signing up
You'll receive e-mail when new stories are published in this series.
Most Read National

national

health-science

Success! Check your inbox for details.

See all newsletters

To keep reading, please enter your email address.

You’ll also receive from The Washington Post:
  • A free 6-week digital subscription
  • Our daily newsletter in your inbox

Please enter a valid email address

I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Please indicate agreement.

Thank you.

Check your inbox. We’ve sent an email explaining how to set up an account and activate your free digital subscription.