February 12, 2015

SWHR Praises Equal but not the same: a male bias reigns in medical research Commentary

SWHR commends Peter Rogers, Professor of Women’s Health Research, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, and Director of Research, Royal Women’s Hospital at University of Melbourne for his commentary in Equal but not the same: a male bias reigns in medical research.

Clinical trials are critical to the development of the medical products that will improve diagnosis, prevention, and treatment options that will improve patient’s lives and health outcomes. Inadequate recruitment and participation of women and minorities in medical research jeopardizes medical innovation, and as Rogers points out, “the lack of female representation in both preclinical studies and clinical trials has put women at greater risk of adverse events from medical interventions.” As the thought-leader in promoting research on biological differences in disease, SWHR has tirelessly advocated for the inclusion of women in all phases of clinical trials, with sufficient representation to allow for analysis by sex, ethnicity and other demographics.

Although women and minorities are still vastly underrepresented in medical research, tremendous progress that has been made; most recently with unveiling of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) 2014 Action Plan to help close the healthcare disparities gap for women, minorities, and the elderly in clinical trials. As a part of that effort, the FDA launched, Drug Trials Snapshots, a website that provides information on the participation of people in clinical trials by sex, age, race, and ethnicity. Despite the growing awareness around the cost of excluding women and minorities in medical research, much work remains. We must fundamentally change the way we think about medical research. Before we even begin discussing the variability that exists between individuals, we need to first achieve the levels of participation in clinical trials that are necessary to understand the biomedical differences between men and women. This will truly lead to our overarching goal, ensuring that the right patient, receives the right treatment at the right time.

We invite you to join us in our effort.