Study shows gender gap in prescriptions and treatment

Chris Carter
Chris Carter

Women are simultaneously given more drugs than men and undertreated, according to a study by Medco and the Society of Women's Health Research.

The report found that these seemingly contradictory trends are part of an overall gap in understanding how the health of women and men differs from the point of physician interaction through compliance.

“I think physicians need to know this and need to know there may be unconscious biases against managing women the same as managing men,” Dr. Chris Carter, vice president of scientific affairs at the Society for Women's Health Research, told MM&M.

Among the study's findings, based on 30 million prescription records from January through December 2010: doctors prescribed cholesterol-lowering medications for 59% of women compared with 71.5% of men, and beta-blockers were only prescribed for 63% of female heart attack patients, compared with 69% of men.

Carter said the difference in how doctors managed heart disease for women and men was a big surprise, and contributed to the study's larger message: “If you look at each of these categories and each of these metrics the women are always doing more poorly than the men,” she said.

The data did not reveal why women are falling behind on their medications or why their health is being managed differently from a physician standpoint. However, Carter said the discrepancies indicate that a shift is needed to properly address women's health.

The numbers flip, however, when looking at more superficial measures. For example, Medco found that women play excellent defense, outpacing men when it comes to colon cancer screenings, monitoring the cholesterol for which they aren't receiving medications, and for immunizations.

Carter said the society plans additional studies, but these findings could spur discussions about possible changes. “Maybe the final take home is that gender-specific treatment guidelines should be generated. Not gender-neutral,” she said.
You must be a registered member of MMM to post a comment.

Next Article in Features

Email Newsletters

As US pharma continued its quest for a Grand Prix at the Lions Health international festival of creativity, MM&M went on location to Cannes, France. Missed our coverage from June? Now, we're giving you an opportunity to catch up on some of what you missed. Download our e-book on the two-day festival, recapping the event, rounding up the best of the speakers, offering perspective and listing all of the winners. Click here to download.

The most recent MM&M Skill Sets Live event surveyed a range of issues relating to one of the hottest promotional spaces in healthcare. Speakers and panelists at the morning-long session, including promotional- and multichannel-minded executives from GSK, Epocrates, Treato and Montefiore Medical Center, weighed in on topics designed to help marketers demystify the challenges associated with non-personal promotion. Click here.