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Drug Research Still Lagging in Women’s Health Care

Does legislation make a difference in drug research when it comes to the health of women? A quarter of a century after the United States legislated to remove the inequalities, and more recently Health Canada recommending that comparative studies be performed in healthy male and/or female volunteers to minimize variability, nothing has really changed.

We know that at least 50 drugs act differently in women.

Though there is no evidence to explain why there are different responses between the sexes, the literature abounds with postulations. For example, women have less stomach acid production and therefore food stays in their stomachs for a longer time than it does for men. Women also have more body fat than men, so drugs that work through attachment to fat may be more effective in women. Water-activated drugs may work better in men. The female immune system is also different. This could contribute to the high incidence of chronic diseases in women. We just don’t know.

Hopefully, as more women are represented in policy-making bodies, more steps will be taken toward the improvement of management of nonreproductive health problems in women.

About the author
Dr. Deb has more than 20 years of experience in academic medicine leadership positions, delivering educational programs on women's health and primary care research for healthcare workers in the United States, Europe, Asia, and Australia.

Filed under: Info for Providers

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