Bridgewater Township, NJ — Speaking at Sanofi’s U.S. headquarters, Dr. Gaurang Daftary, senior director of medical affairs at Ferring Pharmaceuticals, stressed how much women’s health has suffered due to the fact that, historically, clinical trials have recruited mostly men. Every woman, Daftary said, should understand how they themselves have been hurt by health care’s systemic biases. Daftary’s talk was part of BioNJ’s Inspiring Women in STEM conference, which is committed to advancing women in science, technology, engineering and math careers.

The facts are clear: “Women respond differently to diseases, and diseases are differently manifested in women,” Daftary said. “Yet much of the research for available treatments have been based on male models. We still need more female models in all sorts of clinical trials.”

These points are critical when it comes to trial recruitment. But Daftary’s next topic should hit closer to home for pharma marketers, whom he urged to distinguish better between sex and gender in outreach efforts. “Gender influences a lot in the way we behave and accept things, in the way we access health care, in the way we respond to physicians and in the way that we tolerate medicines or treatments that are given to us,” he said.

The ramifications are plain to see. As Daftary said, “What is the point of giving someone a medication that is just not acceptable to their lifestyle, so, when they go home, they don’t take it? Then we haven’t really served anyone.”

An In Vivo report this month shows that, in the last five years, pharmaceutical C-suites have begun moving toward levels of gender diversity reflecting those of their overall workforces. But, at this rate, it would take till 2050 to get all the way there.

Across the globe, innovators are deploying different strategies to address the lack of diversity in clinical research. Read more in a new report from Syneos Health, “How to Boost Racial, Ethnic and Gender Diversity in Clinical Research.”

About the Author:

Ben helps spark innovative healthcare thinking as Associate Director of Innovation. Previously on the editorial staff of Vanity Fair, he brings experience in engaging, rigorous storytelling to the healthcare world. Ben’s goals are to move brands to rethink their roles, own their evolving narratives, and maintain vital and vigorous consumer relationships.