Published in the RSPE Event Horizon
Vol43 Issue40 23–27 October 2017
Clinical research: Inequality in medicine
Regulators have been calling for equal representation of men and women in health research for nearly 25 years. So why are women still underrepresented?
All drugs pose some risk to everyone who takes them. But women face more danger than men and have a lower likelihood that a therapy will work. Between 2004 and 2013, for instance, women in the United States suffered more than 2 million drug-related adverse events, compared with just 1.3 million for men, according to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
One of the main reasons women fare worse is that they are underrepresented in studies of disease mechanisms and treatment. When women are ignored, researchers might miss differences in the way the female body responds to therapies, giving doctors little guidance about how to prescribe drugs for each sex.
Researchers and policymakers are working on several fronts to remedy this, although there is still resistance and progress is slow. Those who are pushing for more women to be included in research argue that it should not be viewed as an inconvenience but as an opportunity for better science
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