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More side effects, more hospital admissions

The department of Epidemiology is to start a project to determine whether the intake of medication by women more frequently results in hospital admissions compared to men.

man, vrouw, medicatieGender differences
The study will start in spring and is funded by the Gender and Health program of The Netherlands Organisation for Health Research and Development (ZonMw). 

Dr. Loes Visser, hospital pharmacist and epidemiologist, is project leader of the study into gender differences in the side effects of medication that result in hospital admission. She gives a striking example from the United States:  "Women experienced more side effects from eight out of ten medications that were taken off the market by the FDA between 1997 and 2000."

Up until now no systematic pharmacoepidemiological research has been conducted into the differences in side effects experienced by men and women in daily practice. Visser's team will use the PHARMO Database Network, which contains delivery data on medication from public pharmacies, hospital admissions, data from general practitioners, and clinical laboratory values of over three million anonymized patients.

Prevalence and  incidence density of medication-related hospital admissions in men and women will be determined using the so-called HARM+ list. Visser: "This list contains combinations of medication and outcomes that, according to a team of experts, might be medication-related. Once it becomes clear what side effects are experienced and which drugs cause male-female differences, then we can start a follow-up study into the causes and develop gender-specific treatment guidelines."

The study will be considered successful if a list of side effects and drugs showing evident gender differences in hospital admittance can be drawn up, says Visser. For further information on the study 'Sex as a risk factor for clinically relevant adverse drug reactions', see the project application.

Date published: 28 August 2017.

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