The Daily Tonic: Mainstream Medical Misogyny

The Daily Tonic is a two to five minute read sharing science backed health news and tips, all while getting you to crack a smile or even lol on occasion.

Women and men are treated differently pretty much everywhere and according to this new study, the doctor’s office is no exception. 

Now before we get to the specific study, let’s take a step back and set up some context. We have talked about this before on The Daily Tonic, but we love overprescribing treatments and medications here in the U.S. 

The number of Americans taking multiple medications has ballooned over the past two decades. Between 2000 and 2012, the percentage of U.S adults taking five or more medications nearly doubled, from 8.2 percent to 15 percent.

Do some people need all of these medications? Of course. But do all of them need that many drugs, or do we have a broken system that incentivizes doctors to hand out prescriptions like free samples at Costco on a Saturday? 

And it isn’t just doctors that are a part of the problem. We are the only country that allows pharmaceutical companies to market directly to the end consumer (that’s us). Remember back when Prince Harry and Meghan Markle were interviewed on Oprah? Thousands of people from the UK tuned in for the U.S stream of the interview and they were shocked by the commercials we see in America. (Here is a good Twitter compilation to scroll through if you get bored at work).

Apparently other countries don’t get bashed over the head with “ask with doctor today if ____ is right for you” commercials every time they turn on the TV. 

Misogyny is rampant in the medical communities, where women are often seen as ‘weaker men’

It turns out that older Americans are particularly vulnerable to the overprescription problem. Today, 42 percent of adults over the age of 65 take five or more medications. 

Which finally brings us back to this recent study that showed that women are more likely than men to be overprescribed unnecessary and potentially harmful treatments or medications. Some examples pointed out by researchers included benzodiazepines for insomnia in those over age 65, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs in people with hypertension or chronic kidney disease, antibiotics for acute bronchitis, and imaging tests for low back pain without another warning sign before 6 weeks. 

Researchers speculate that the difference in treatment is at least in part due to the cultural belief that women are weaker than men and therefore need earlier intervention. 

Woah… Excuse me but the 1800s called and said they want their misogynistic beliefs back.

The key takeaway. What are we doing here? Prescribing more and more unnecessary medications to people that don’t need them and making medical decisions based on grossly outdated biases? 

Our healthcare system is in desperate need of changes that will help align the incentives put on doctors with what is truly best for the patient. Is that really too much to ask for?

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