New research indicated that women often end up being overmedicated because the calculation of drug dosages are based on clinical trials done on men primarily. Resulting in women afflicted by excess side effects as stated in the research.
Researchers from the University of Chicago and the University of California, Berkeley, analyzed over 5,000 publicly available clinical drug studies and identified 86 drugs that reacted in a non-identical manner in men and women. Standard medications like aspirin, morphine, and heparin, and widely prescribed antidepressants such as sertraline and bupropion were included in the trial.
The researchers observed that women metabolized the drugs slower than men, which led to higher levels of exposure to the drugs and in 96% of cases, also induced adverse side effects such as headache, nausea, bleeding, and seizures. The current study explains that, even if the dosage is adjusted according to the weight of the patient, the drugs remain in the blood and tissues of women longer than they do in men. The liver and kidneys also end up metabolizing these drugs at different rates.
There has been a widespread unequal representation of females in scientific researches in the field of biomedical research and drug trials because of the belief that the female hormone’s presence could interfere with the study designs, an assumption that has been proven wrong on several occasions. Therefore, women remain underrepresented, and even if they get inclusion the data analyzed does not consider differences in sex into consideration. This leads to complications in studying the effect of similar drugs, and vaccines on men and women differently.
Even though the reasons for these remain completely unknown, Co-author of the study and a psychologist at the University of Chicago, Brian Prendergast, posited that “We need to immediately re-evaluate the widespread practice of prescribing the same doses to men and women.”
He added, “There are a lot of drugs that are prescribed on a ‘one-size-fits-all’ basis, and it’s clear that this doesn’t always work. For much of the time it’s been practiced, Biomedical Science has been done by men, on men. It even starts in the petri dish: Most cell lines used in early tests are male, and then drugs are tested on male lab animals”.
Prof. Brian also suggested a prescription of a smaller dose for women and a gradual increment to reach a balance where the medication is showing the intended effect without any adverse side effects. Besides, medical bodies could also specifically label drugs that are already known to have sex differences to limit the side effects women may experience from taking drugs in similar quantities as men.
“We have an opportunity to do this better,” Prendergast said. “This information needs to be widely available.”
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