I'm glad to see that our scientists seem to be making inroads on the treatment of breast cancer. Our evening news was rife with stories about "Herceptin," a new drug that is touted as cutting in half the chance that breast cancer will return. The studies will have to continue, because they've only followed women with cancer for three years. Breast cancer can return in up to 20 years. Still, this is a positive bit of news.
So much of our health care has been based on studies that used men, but not women, for research. It's been within my lifetime that scientists have come to recognize that it's not safe to generalize that treatment that works for a male body, will necessarily work for a female body.
Have the drug companies focused their research on men because men have had more discretionary income than women? Probably.
Have drug companies generalized drug use from studies that were male only. Yes.
Will we begin to see any change in that pattern, as it has become obvious that it's not possible to generalize how a woman will respond to a drug that hasn't been tested on women? I hope so. I'd hate to think that women might be blindly participating in field research for drug companies.
It's possible that this is one area where insurance companies might actually be of help in managing women's health. If enough women have to file claims against a drug company for selling drugs that are inappropriate, through insufficient research, perhaps the insurance companies will actually do a service.
Now that women are a larger part of the work force, I think it's become profitable to see to their needs. After all, why would a smart business turn their back on a demographic that large?
I'm really glad to see that strides are being made in women's health care. I hope Herceptin is the wonder drug they think it might be.