Breakthrough Patient Recruitment

: The Missing Women in Medicine

The Missing Women in Medicine

Women comprise over half of the U.S. population; yet, until 1993, approximately zero percent of government-funded medical research was required to examine the way many different ways in which women and men are affected by illness, medicines, chemicals, treatments and more. For too many years, medical recommendations were based on the assumption that male bodies are the model body. Now, Ketchum has been enlisted to help the FDA Office of Women's Health change this.

Although two decades have passed since it was mandated that women and minorities be included in medical research, a recent study revealed that "the science that informs medicine - including the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of disease - routinely fails to consider the crucial impact of sex and gender."

How does this medical research disparity impact women? It means - for example - that the symptoms and risk factors we typically as sociate with heart attacks are actually those experienced by men, not women. It means that although women are at greater risk for depression, female lab animals are included in less than half of the depression and anxiety studies; male lab animals are included in five times as many neuroscience scientific studies. It means that each year, we lose more women to cardiovascular disease than any other cause, yet only one-third (31%) of clinical trials for it include women.

Thanks to a greater push for diverse women in clinical trials, we've gotten closer to understanding how sex differences exacerbate the risk of developing Alzheimer's. We've learned that certain treatments for lung cancer - which claims more women's lives than breast, ovarian and uterine cancers - are more successful for women than men. Men and women originally were prescribed the same doses of Ambien, but after learning that some women taking it would wake up and go about their activities the next day still under the influence of the drug, the FDA halved the recommended dose for women.

The examples of success are plentiful, but the need for more is greater. Women - particularly of diverse backgrounds - are still needed to enroll in clinical trials in greater quantities, and Ketchum's new charge is to help make this happen. Our work to support the FDA's Office of Women's Health in this effort could mean better health outcomes for our coworkers, mothers, aunts, sisters and wives.

 

Reposted with permission from Ketchum Diversity Digest - Originally posted on March 14, 2016

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