In biomedical research, sex bias is a long-standing issue.
In 2019, the British Journal of Pharmacology (BJP) published an editorial that highlighted the recent buzz around ‘precision medicine’ and stated that “it seems unconscionable that “sex,” which is probably the most obvious distinguishing characteristic in humans, has been largely ignored in biomedical research”. The journal decided to recommend that all future studies that it would publish should “acknowledge consideration of the issue of sex”.
In March 2023, the BJP published the results of its audit into reporting sex as an experimental variable. The senior editorial team noted that “progress in persuading researchers to study both sexes has been disappointing”.
Commenting on the audit, the British Pharmacological Society said that “ignoring potential sex differences in research can lead to problems with translation or reproducibility”. It also said that a bias towards studying male physiology and the male drug response can lead to “inappropriate treatment recommendations” for females which may be “harmful”.
The BJP said “despite the increased awareness of sex bias in biomedical research, more needs to be done to convince researchers to act on this awareness”.
Professor Amrita Ahluwalia, senior author of the BJP article, immediate-past Editor-in-Chief of BJP and Secretary General of WCP2023, said:
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