Why have Pharma companies abandoned Women’s Health?
by Herman Weiss on Dec 05, 2021
Women’s Health has been largely abandoned by the research and development world. While there is tremendous unmet medical need which would equate to potential profits, no mid to large size pharmaceutical companies are venturing into the programs. In fact, by and large, and save for a few, they are abandoning all their programs in various levels of development. This is for various reasons but first and foremost, it is difficult to run clinical trials and study women of reproductive age. It is more costly and if there is a pregnancy involved the investigators must follow those patients and children out for many years to see if there are any adverse effects. Many of the unmet needs within women’s health is hormonal mediated, and venturing into the hormonal space is fraught with potential side effects such as hypercoagulation and, be it ever so minimal, may lead to myriads of lawsuits later on, and in all honesty the companies don't have the appetite they once did. Generic medications are as good and plentiful and cost effective, and often first line until additional benefits can be proven by a new brand name medication. Pharmaceuticals are more interested in the big bang in gene therapy and orphan disease and oncology patients, leaving women and women’s health R&D out in the cold.
While this is indeed unfortunate it does provide opportunities. There are many lifestyle modifications that can be initiated to alter, enhance, improve, and ultimately treat many diseases. The issues at hand are many, but one striking issue is the lack of interest by the general physician to give over these useful techniques, why? It takes time, and physicians are being asked to see more patients in less time, and time is a luxury that physicians do not have. While it is easy to give a pill and send them on their way, it is quite a different thing to educate, nurture, build a rapport, and really get the patient to understand the disease and the disease process. Patients are also looking at alternative sources for medical education and “Dr Google” never ceases to scare the pants off every patient who ventures into self diagnoses.
So where is the opportunity? It is understanding the disease, giving over the information in a way that is well understood, patient, educational and non-condescending and being present to answer questions and offer guidance, advice, support in a positive and non judgmental way. Disease states are not a point in time, they did not happen overnight, nor will they be cured in a snap of the fingers, hard to develop and hard to cure. But let's not focus on cure, let's focus on understanding, because knowledge is power and understanding the spectrum of disease where the pendulum is resting as it oscillates through life is the critical point. It is empowering to know where something started, is and will be.