This week is National Women's Health Week, when millions of women take steps to improve their health, make wellness a priority and build positive habits for life. We often see women caring for everyone around them before themselves, and when they do seek medical care, they may be up against different obstacles from men.
For example, a recent study found that women in the United States who have experienced heart attacks are less likely than men to receive the high-intensity statins recommended to prevent further heart attacks and strokes. This is despite initiatives that have sought to raise awareness of heart disease in women and reduce sex differences in treatment.
We also lack needed treatments for some diseases that disproportionately affect women. America's biopharmaceutical companies are focused on many of these diseases:
Migraine: Today, about one in six Americans suffer from migraine, with three times more women affected compared to men. According to a recent report released by Eli Lilly and Company and conducted by Nielsen, 91 percent of respondents with migraine agreed that those who do not experience migraine pain do not have a complete understanding of the severity of the disease.
Today, there are 27 new medicines in development for headache and migraine. Among them is a new class of medicines, the first ever developed specifically to address migraine at the molecular level, which offers great promise to help prevent migraines in the many patients whose needs are not met by current treatments.
Autoimmune disease: More than 23.5 million Americans, 75 percent of them women, suffer from autoimmune disease, such as multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis. Women account for about 90 percent of Americans suffering from lupus and fibromyalgia. Autoimmune diseases are often not well understood, and it takes an overage 4.6 years for patients to receive a correct diagnosis.
Researchers are quickly advancing their knowledge of autoimmune diseases. In 2016, 80 medicines were in development for the treatment of autoimmune diseases.
Endometriosis: One in 10 American women between 15 and 44 suffer from endometriosis, a condition that can cause severe pelvic pain and infertility. Although endometriosis is common, many women are not aware of the disease and assume the pain is a normal part of their menstrual cycle. It can take years for women to receive a correct diagnosis, and treatment options are limited for long term management of endometriosis. Patients often require surgery, oral contraceptives and pain medicines.
Today, there are several medicines in late stage development for endometriosis.
We live in a new era where we understand more about the difference between population groups and the underlying causes of disease. America's biopharmaceutical companies continue to make progress in the search for new cures and treatments for diseases of special concern to women.