Have you ever heard the saying “women are from Venus and men are from Mars?” Although this is false, it points out the fact that men and women are very different from each other. So why are men and women given the same treatments for common medical conditions and diseases? Consider a common condition such as high blood pressure, both sexes are often prescribed the same dosage of prescription medication without a second thought. Often a “one-size-fits-all” approach is used when healthcare providers are treating common medical conditions among both sexes.
A research study that was published in the Biology of Sex Differences journal took a look into how prescription medications affect women differently than men. The researchers reviewed thousands of studies and found that there is clear evidence that suggests that it is more likely that women will experience adverse side effects from medication than men.
A major reason why this proves to be true is that clinical drug trials have excluded women from participating in the past. Before a medication is approved it must go through several clinical trials to test its safety, effectiveness, and side effects. These trials aid in determining what dosages are recommended. The main issue is that in the past these trials had mostly male participants. Women were excluded because of hormone differences, the possibility of pregnancy, and liability reasons. Although the thought behind excluding women was to preserve their safety, considering the big picture, it caused a lack of medication research in the female sex.
In studies that did compare and give males and females the same medication dosage, it has been found that the females had a higher concentration of the drug in their body and it took them longer to secrete the drug from their body compared to males. In most cases, females had more negative side effects than males.
The authors of the study concluded that there needs to be more awareness and research about how prescription medication affects women differently than men. Without more research, women will continue to be at a disadvantage when being treated with prescription medication.
For more information, read the research study here.
Zucker, I., Prendergast, B.J. Sex differences in pharmacokinetics predict adverse drug reactions in women. Biol Sex Differ 11, 32 (2020).