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More adverse drug reactions are reported for women

26 June 2019

  • Women have a higher risk of adverse drug reactions (ADRs) being reported than men, even when differences in the number of drug users is taken into account. Lareb investigated this in collaboration with the University of Groningen and University Medical Center Groningen. Knowledge of differences between women and men in type and number of ADRs is important and may ultimately lead to sex- and gender-specific prescribing or monitoring recommendations.

    Drugs with a higher risk of ADRs being reported for women include thyroid hormones, tumor necrosis factor-alpha inhibitors and ADHD medication. ADRs that were more often reported for women were nausea, alopecia and headache, while aggression, sexual dysfunction and tendon rupture were more often reported for men.

    Observed differences in type and number of reported ADRs can be caused by sex- or gender-related factors. Sex-related factors refer to biological differences between women and men, whereas gender-related factors refer to psychosocial, behavioral or cultural differences. Sex-related factors can be differences in the metabolism of drugs between women and men. Gender-related factors are, for example, differences in perception. Hair loss is more notable in women than men whereas, gynecomastia is more notable in men.

    This study, which was funded by ZonMW ‐ The Netherlands Organization for Health Research and Development, was published in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology; de Vries, Denig P, Ekhart et al. Sex differences in adverse drug reactions reported to the National Pharmacovigilance Centre in the Netherlands: an explorative observational study. BJCP 2019