(AP Photo/Allen G. Breed)

Well, that didn't take long.

Sprout Pharmaceuticals, the small company whose polarizing pill to treat low sex drive in women was approved Tuesday by the Food and Drug Administration, has been purchased by Canadian drugmaker Valeant Pharmaceuticals for approximately $1 billion.

The deal underscores the potentially massive market for flibanserin, which will be sold under the brand name Addyi and is set to become available on pharmacy shelves this fall.

[FDA approves controversial drug for women with low sex drives]

"Delivering a first-ever treatment for a commonly reported form of female sexual dysfunction gives us the perfect opportunity to establish a new portfolio of important medications that uniquely impact women," Valeant chief executive J. Michael Pearson said in a statement Thursday.

The FDA rejected flibanserin in 2010 and again in 2013, saying that common side effects such as fainting, nausea, dizziness and low blood pressure outweighed the modest benefits of the drug. Its approval on Tuesday also came with numerous conditions reflecting the agency’s concerns. They include a boxed warning that highlights the risks of low blood pressure and fainting in patients who drink alcohol while taking the drug, as well as a requirement that doctors complete a training course before being allowed to prescribe it.

While referred to as "female Viagra," flibanserin has little relation to the little blue bill that treats sexual dysfunction in men. Rather, it is intended to increase a woman's libido by balancing levels of serotonin and dopamine in the brain. It is intended to help women experiencing Hypoactive Sexual Desire Disorder, or low sexual drive, which by some estimates affects 1 in 10 U.S. women.

[The FDA just approved "female Viagra." What is it, and why is it so controversial]

Valeant said Thursday it will pay roughly $500 million upfront and another $500 million early next year to purchase North Carolina-based Sprout, as well as a share of future profits based on certain milestones.

"This partnership with Valeant allows us the capacity to now ensure broader, more affordable access to all the women who have been waiting for this treatment," Sprout chief executive Cindy Whitehead said in a statement. "Beyond building this in the United States, Valeant also offers us a global footprint that could eventually bring Addyi to women across the globe."

That will come as bad news to critics of the drug, such as the health watchdog Public Citizen, whose founder wrote this week that he expects the FDA to pull the drug from the market in several years because of "stories of women who are harmed needlessly by flibanserin."

Read more:

The perilous plight of middle managers: Exploitation, domination and depression

Shorter women have shorter pregnancies — and that can be a big problem

It turns out parenthood is worse than divorce, unemployment — even the death of a partner

 

A new app can predict suicide risk with startling accuracy