Painkillers may work differently for men, women: Study

Los Angeles: Painkillers and antidepressants may work differently in men and women as the potential therapeutics are rarely tested in females, a new study has claimed.

Hormones and other variables make a difference in how potential therapeutics behave, and both males and females must be accounted for in trials to move medical advances forward, researchers said.

"Right now, when you go to the doctor and you are given a prescription, it might not ever have been specifically tested in females," said Deborah J Clegg from Cedars-Sinai Hospital in the US.

"Almost all basic research - regardless of whether it involves rodent models, dogs, or humans - is predominately done in males. The majority of research is done with the assumption that men and women are biologically the same," said Clegg.

One reason females are excluded from studies, she said, is that across the menstrual cycle there are fluctuations in hormones such as estrogens and progesterone, in essence creating a different hormonal milieu or profile depending on the phase of cycle, which may potentially impact the research.

Often overlooked in male-only studies, these sex hormones are implicated in all biological processes, including sensitivity to fatty acids, or the ability to metabolise simple sugars, she said.