In March of 1776, Abigail Adams wrote an impassioned letter to her husband urging him to remember that women were as patriotic as men, as desirous of separating the American colonies from British rule, as willing to fight and sacrifice toward that end, and deserving of the vote.
Adams’s letter – where she urged her husband to “remember the ladies”, some of whom were far better educated than the backwoodsmen who would be allowed to govern the new nation – did not succeed.
Here’s one that will: The National Institutes of Health (NIH), having finally acknowledged that clinical studies that do not contain an equal number of female participants fail to produce medicines and remedies and even procedures that are 100% effective for all adults, are now requiring female/male parity in future studies.
Think this is just one more ho-hum, medical academia requirement? Think again.
When a new Big Pharma product is produced using only male study subjects, that product can have adverse effects on fully half of the people who take it.
As in, 1 out of 2, or 50%.
What kind of efficacy is that? Horrible, as it turns out, since women experience adverse drug reactions at higher rates than men do.
As a scientist quoted in the New York Times says, “One of the underlying assumptions has been that females are simply a variation on a theme, that it isn’t a fundamentally different mechanism, that if you’ve learned about the male you’ve learned enough to deal with both males and females. We’ve discovered that’s not always the case.”
That’s true even on a cellular level. “Every cell has a sex. Each cell is either male or female, and that genetic difference results in different biochemical processes within those cells.”
So human does not equal male. Human includes all of us, with all our differences.
“Contrary to the conventional wisdom in laboratories, there is far more variability among males than among females on a number of traits and behaviors,” researchers have found.
Look, if you hope to produce drugs and remedies that will help everyone, you need to include, well, everyone in your studies. It’s no use pretending women are smaller and slightly inferior men. That kind of attitude was false from the start, and women have been hurt by the very pharmaceuticals prescribed to help them. Lies are lies, no matter their origin.
Does it cost more to include female subjects in lab testing? Only if you double your testing population. Instead, you could go halves on it. Or use only female subjects, and ignore men’s worries that the product may not actually help them that much.
After all, that’s what’s been happening, in reverse.
For the foot-dragging NIH to finally get its ducks in a row and require parity in studies is amazing. Now, researchers, stop complaining and step up to the plate.