Healthcare

Bill requires medical research for females as well as males

Reps. Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.) and Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.) have introduced new bipartisan legislation to require medical researchers to study female animals and cells in addition to male ones. 

{mosads}The bill, which would apply to research funded by the National Institutes of Health, would allow for new treatments to be tailored to differences in women, something that is lost when researchers only use male animals, the lawmakers argue. 

“‘Mad Men’ may be ending soon, but medical research is still stuck in the ‘60s,” Cooper said in a statement. “Women deserve good medicine just as men do. Science needs to serve both men and women.”

For example, the lawmakers point out, the initial dosage of the sleeping pill Ambien did not take into account differences in how women metabolized it and eventually had to be lowered by half for women. 

NIH has already taken some steps to include more female animals and cells in research. Researchers had previously used only male ones in part because of concerns that female hormonal cycles would throw off experiments. 

In September, NIH announced $10.1 million in grants for research to include more female animals and cells. 

Dr. Janine Austin Clayton, NIH’s associate director for women’s health, has been leading a push. 

“If a female patient is seeing a clinician, I want that clinician to be basing the treatment decisions on female data,” she told Self magazine in October. “Right now, there just isn’t that sex-specifc evidence.”

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