Viewpoint: 3 reasons why biotechnology neglects women's health

The biotechnology industry needs to address the lack of progress in women's health innovations, argues Daré Bioscience CEO Sabrina Johnson and Medicines360 CEO Jessica Grossman, in a STAT op-ed.

"Even as new forms of contraception, fertility treatments and therapies for vaginal health are emerging, there is a dearth of investment in women's health," the authors wrote.

Here are three reasons why biotechnology has been slow to make progress in women's health, according to the authors.

1. Gender gap in biotech leadership. Across all biotech companies, women fill less than 10 percent of chief executive roles, which affects how industry leaders address healthcare access issues that women are more likely to face than men. "Innovative biotechs need to think about the entire healthcare ecosystem and engineer how women will access their products," the authors wrote.

2. Underrepresentation of women in clinical trials. Women have only been guaranteed representation in federally funded studies since the 1990s, according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information. This underrepresentation has taken away from the opportunity to pursue new developments in conditions specific to women. Clinical research must focus on enrolling more women and work to design studies that highlight potential sex differences in treatments.

3. "One size fits all" approach to medicine. Industry leaders should develop more personalized medicines and technologies for women. Women in diverse sub-groups who have differences in biology, genetics, health history, demographics and ethnicity should have individually designed therapies. "Without leaders and investors who have a mindset for women's health, the industry will have a persistent blind spot for identifying innovations that can translate into marketplace opportunities," the authors wrote.

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