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Gender balance for safer medications

June 3, 2014

Laboratory-Animals-Business

The importance of gender balance has been recently showed through rats and pigs. Researchers doing medical experiments avoided female laboratory animals for decades, with dire consequences for women. From sleeping pills to cholesterol drugs, women have been blindsided by side effects and dosage miscalculations that were discovered only after the medications hit the market.

Scientists in medical research usually took the easier path and avoided female animals altogether. Even when studying diseases that are more prevalent in women, they often relied on male animals. The same habit was present in clinical trials. Since females have more dynamic hormone balance, so the argument goes, they might interfere with the experiments. Therefore, laboratories overwhelmingly opted for a male population and gathered far less knowledge and insight into drug effects on women. Only lately the examples of treatments working differently in men and women, like aspirin protection against heart attack or nicotine patches, have been properly addressed.

Women now make up half the participants in clinical research funded by the US institutes, those carried out by drug companies and medical device manufacturers however are still lagging behind. Now the US government, one of the world’s top financial backers of biomedical studies, is trying to change that. From this year on, all researchers seeking their grants must ensure balanced gender representation, from cells and animals to preclinical studies. The rats and pigs will have equal opportunities to serve the advancement of science in the labs.

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From → Hic Salta

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  1. Smart health for women | feminet

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