What’s Facing Women’s Health Today? Part One of a Three-Part Series Honoring Women’s Health Week
We have talked about the disproportionate harm pharmaceuticals cause women compared to men before. Not only do women take more medications than men and respond differently to medications than men, but women also are more likely to suffer adverse drug events. This applies to both over-the-counter and prescription pharmaceuticals as well as medical devices.
To help combat this issue and mark the start of Women’s Health Week, May 11-17, 2014, we would like to spotlight some of the biggest concerns facing women’s health today — and what we can do to help.
Now, some of the harm caused to women from dangerous pharmaceuticals comes from high-profile cases like Transvaginal Mesh revision lawsuits (we’ll get to that in the following blog for this series); however, sometimes, the harm comes from things you’d never think of as a “woman’s issue.”
Case in point: Statins. These cholesterol-lowering pills, like Lipitor, are widely popular for men and women over 50. However, while women represent a little bit more than half of the population, women have been very underrepresented in the clinical trials of statins, according to a recent article in The New York Times. Which means that evidence on the benefits and risks for women is severely limited, despite the countless prescriptions made to women a year.
In fact, while we do not know much about women and their response to statins, we do know one important detail about women and heart disease that in facts contradicts the sudden need for statins for women: That heart disease tends to develop 10 years later in women than in men and that only in a women’s mid-70’s is her risk of heart disease the same as a man’s.
We also know that statins have not been shown to help prevent healthy women from having their first heart attack, or saving their lives.
The lack of evidence is due to a simple fact that we want to repeat now because it’s just so bad: That enough women have not been enrolled in the clinical trials of statins like Lipitor. That’s the only reason. There has not been enough research and because of this doctors are guessing whether or not to prescribe a statin to their female patients, and sometimes that decision is a wrong one because we do not have all of the facts yet.
Yes, this is a problem, and women need to start being enrolled in clinical trials just as equally as men.
To help us kick off Women’s Health Week, let’s start sharing the news.
We’ll be back soon with our next part in the series, highlighting transvaginal mesh, one of the biggest dangers women face from the pharmaceutical industry today.