Preventing Side Effects for Women
About every other woman I’ve asked has told me that she is sensitive to medications. This isn’t surprising considering that the doses of most drugs are based on men’s needs and tolerances, not women’s. In 2001, the U.S. General Accounting Office reported that in the early drug studies for establishing drug doses, 78% of the subjects are men. No wonder so many women cannot tolerate standard doses of top-selling drugs.
Even worse, more and more drugs today are marketed and prescribed one-size-fits-all. These powerful medications are prescribed identically to Shaquille O’Neal, Ally McBeal, and Grandma Moses, even if Grandma is 90 years old, weighs 90 pounds, and takes 9 other drugs. Such methods defy medical science and common sense, but that’s what drug companies recommend and doctors do.
Thus, it’s not surprising that with many major drugs, women sustain a higher incidence of medication side effects than men. It’s not surprising that of the 11 drugs withdrawn by the FDA since 1997, 8 affected women the most. And because women live longer than men, and the elderly are most at-risk for medication side effects, older women are that the greatest risk. With such methods, is it any wonder that medication side effects are one of the top five leading causes of death year after year?
What can you do? Unfortunately, little has been written on this topic. That’s why I’ve addressed this issue in:
“Do Standard Doses of Frequently Prescribed Drugs Cause Preventable Adverse Effects in Women?” JAMWA (Journal of the American Medical Women’s Association) 2002;57:105-110.
“How the Drug Companies’ Policies Harm Women.” Chapter 5 in: Over Dose: The Case Against The Drug Companies. Prescription Drugs, Side Effects, and Your Health. Tarcher/Putnam, New York: October 2001.
I intend to write a lot more on this subject in my new books and subsequent newsletters. This problem is preventable. No one benefits when people get side effects, when doctors have to deal with them, insurers’ costs climb, and drug companies lose sales because so many people quit treatment. We can end the side-effect epidemic now, and in doing so make it a win-win situation for all participants in healthcare today.