Neuroscientist: Sex differences crucial in evaluating medication

Stuff 29 January 2015
Recent research showing the different effects of medicines on men and women could lead to big changes in the way drugs are assessed and prescribed.

Animals used in laboratory tests are typically only male – and Victoria University neuroscientist Gina Grimshaw says this may have led to crucial data being missed on how new drugs affect men and women differently.

Writing in the New Zealand Science Review, she cited research into the sleeping pill Ambien, also known as zolpidem. After being on the market for 20 years, Ambien was found to build up in the blood of women far more than it did men.

It also had startling differences in side-effects, leaving women more tired and less able to concentrate. The recommended dose for female patients was consequently halved by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

More recent research has also revealed variations in male and female reactions to an ADHD and hypertension medication and, in some studies, cholesterol-reducing statins.

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