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The next big sex drug? Clinical trials start soon

An over-the-counter, FDA-approved treatment for "PE"—that's premature ejaculation, for those who aren't up to date on their pharmaceutical acronyms—is beginning clinical trials this month at Kaiser in Southern California.

At the same time, the company behind it has released a very funny commercial starring "Peter," a man who always seems to finish everything early.

Promescent is a spray that uses local anesthetic lidocaine to reduce sensitivity. It's made by a small company with an amazing back story that we first reported on in October.

Customers say Promescent extends performance without reducing satisfaction, and the spray is absorbed quickly, so it doesn't transfer to a partner. Jeff Abraham, CEO of Absorption Pharmaceuticals, which makes Promescent, originally told me he expected sales of $1.5 million this year to more than double to $4 million next year. Now the estimates have skyrocketed as publicity spreads. He's increased his sales team and is now announcing the Kaiser Phase III trials.

Over the course of a year starting roughly Dec. 20, Kaiser will follow 150 men who will be given either Promescent or a placebo. "Obtaining the clinical data resulting from this study is a key step in achieving our goal to be the first-line therapy for this condition by both the AUA (American Urological Association) and the ISSM (International Society for Sexual Medicine)," Abraham said.

"The protocol is all set, and patients are screened and are enrolling," Abraham said Tuesday. "The placebo and real product that has to be generically labeled is actually being manufactured today, as coincidence would have it, and will be shipped to Kaiser early next week."

(Read more: Hotel survey finds that guests prefer coffee to sex)

The head of Urologic Surgery at Kaiser's Southern California division, Dr. Eugene Rhee, added that Promescent's "lidocaine-only absorption formula shows promise as a universally accepted solution for PE."

Research Project Manager Vivian Soto-Zepeda told CNBC the patients will be recruited from Kaiser facilities in San Diego and Los Angeles.

As we reported, Promescent tackles a taboo subject and treats a condition for which there haven't been many solutions (aside from the old standby of drinking a lot of alcohol).

This is also a story, though, about risking one's retirement nest egg and being true to a friend. Abraham put $700,000 of his own money into making and marketing Promescent after his urologist told him about the product. That urologist, Dr. Ron Gilbert, created Promescent after years of seeing an unfulfilled need among patients.

But earlier this year Gilbert was gunned down in what may have been a case of mistaken identity. Abraham is hoping to grow the business they started together to its full potential and then sell it. He wants to provide Gilbert's widow and children with a lifetime of income.

"A lot of very interesting things are happening in the next six months," Abraham said, confident that, much like his product's promise, he's not getting ahead of himself.

—By CNBC's Jane Wells; Follow her on Twitter @janewells.

  • Based in Los Angeles, Jane Wells is a CNBC business news reporter and also writes the Funny Business blog for CNBC.com.

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