Researchers analyzed data from several thousand medical journal articles and found clear evidence of a drug dose gender gap for 86 different medications approved by the Federal Drug Administration (FDA), including antidepressants, cardiovascular and anti-seizure drugs and analgesics, among others.
“When it comes to prescribing drugs, a one-size-fits-all approach, based on male-dominated clinical trials, is not working, and women are getting the short end of the stick,” said study lead author Irving Zucker, a professor emeritus of psychology and of integrative biology at UC Berkeley.
Women in the studies analyzed by Zucker and University of Chicago psychologist Brian Prendergast were given the same drug dose as the men, yet had higher concentrations of the drug in their blood, and it took longer for the drug to be eliminated from their bodies.
And, in more than 90% of cases, women experienced worse side effects, such as nausea, headache, depression, cognitive deficits, seizures, hallucinations, agitation and cardiac anomalies. Overall, they were found to experience adverse drug reactions nearly twice as often as men.
For decades, women were excluded from clinical drug trials based, in part, on unfounded concerns that female hormone fluctuations render women difficult to study, Zucker said… “Neglect of females is widespread, even in cell and animal studies where the subjects have been predominantly male.”