Gender Bias in Studies for Food and Drug Administration Premarket Approval of Cardiovascular Devices
Background Cardiovascular devices can have different safety and effectiveness profiles in men and women. The type and quality of sex-specific data reviewed by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) before approval of these devices are unknown.
Methods and Results We performed a systematic review of the demographics, comments on gender bias, and analysis of results by sex for 78 high-risk cardiovascular devices that received premarket approval by the FDA between 2000 and 2007. FDA summaries of evidence did not report sex of enrollees in 34 (28%) of 123 studies. For studies reporting sex distribution, the study populations were, on average, 67% men. There was no increase in the enrollment of women over time. Explanations for the relatively low percentage of women often stated that the trials reflected either underlying disease distribution or referral rates for similar procedures or that the sex distribution reflected similar or previous trials. Forty-one percent of studies included a gender bias comment or analysis, and 12 (26%) of 47 of these analyses identified some difference in device safety or effectiveness by sex.
Conclusions There is a lack of sex-specific safety and effectiveness data for high-risk cardiovascular devices before FDA approval. The justifications for this lack of evidence may perpetuate the status quo. More rigorous FDA requirements for sex-specific data before device approval could present an opportunity to improve cardiovascular outcomes.
- Received July 2, 2010.
- Accepted January 4, 2011.
- © 2011 American Heart Association, Inc.