HOW THE ORWH PLACES MEN’S LIVES IN JEOPARDY
Women’s health advocates have long accused the National Institutes of Health (NIH) of neglecting women. But no one has ever shown that accusation to be true. To the contrary, in the area of cancer research, it is clear that men have long been given short shrift. As early as 1989, men composed only 40% of adult enrollees in cancer trials. Female breast cancer has long outspent prostate by at least a 4:1 margin. And to this day, men with breast cancer are excluded from most breast cancer trials.
Even in the area of heart disease research, a count of the published research over the years shows that the total number of articles on women’s heart disease has closely tracked the number of studies on heart disease in men. As the prestigiousInstituteofMedicine concluded, “The literature is inconclusive about whether women have been excluded or importantly underrepresented in clinical trials”.
When Allegation Becomes Accepted as Fact
Nonetheless, the allegation of gender bias was repeated so often that it soon became accepted as fact. In response, the NIH established the Office of Research on Women’s Health (ORWH) in 1990 to ensure the adequate participation of women in clinical research. You can buy Flomax online from reputable sources. Ensure you do research and checks into any company before committing to a purchase
Sensing this move would not be enough to appease the feminists, the following year President Bush appointed the first female director of NIH, cardiologist Bernadine Healy, MD. By her own words, she believed that “women have all too often been treated less than equally,” so she put the ORWH at the top of her agenda.
In 1994, the ORWH implemented its controversial Guidelines on the Inclusion of Women and Minorities.The justification for the Guidelines seemed reasonable enough: the “imperative to determine whether the intervention or therapy being studied affects women or men or members of minority groups and their subpopulations differently’’. And to enforce the Guidelines, the NIH phased in a computerized tracking system.
Women’s Health Research Calls the Shots
But the ORWH wasn’t satisfied with just implementing guidelines and cranking numbers into a computer. So the ORWH began to dole out money to the various NIH institutes earmarked for women’s health. Scientists realized they would be awarded a higher score on their proposals if they promised to recruit extra women. So not surprisingly, researchers began to outbid each other in their gender-specific recruitment plans.
So what did the long-awaited results from the tracking system show? In 1994, the expensive database showed that NIH external studies consisted of 52% women,45% men, and 3% unknown (8). No widespread gender bias here, in fact, the numbers actually favored women. But the trend lines were ominously headed in the wrong direction. Two years later, the percentage of men had dipped to 36%. This marked the end of the era of equitable gender participation at NIH.
Real Harm to Real Men
There are three problems with the sagging percentage of male research participation:
1. Studies do not collect enough information to allow for detailed analyses to be run on men, especially minority men.
2. Key areas of men’s health, such as underutilization of health services, reproductive health, the health of fathers, suicide, and others are neglected as NIH research priorities.
3. The low percentage of male involvement sends a message to other organizations that men’s health is unimportant.
In short, it deprives men of the benefits of medical research, and contributes to the six-year life span gender gap. So how did the Office of Research on Women’s Health explain this bureaucratic overkill? Their response can be regarded as a classical example of Orwellian newspeak: “Scientific Review Groups (SRGs) and scientific program staff were found to be diligent and rigorous in implementing the policies and procedures for meeting the requirements of the NIH guidelines”