Self & Society: Medicine A Perilous Gap

Many drugs are tested on men only, creating grave doubts for female patients

One morning two years ago, a 60-year-old woman in Madison, Wis., asked her doctor what seemed like a simple question. The patient had just reached menopause and wanted to know whether she should start taking aspirin daily. She had seen newspaper and TV reports claiming that the pills lower the risk of heart attacks, and she knew such risks increase dramatically for women after they stop menstruating. "My answer was dead silence," says the woman's physician, Dr. Elizabeth Karlin, who teaches at the University of Wisconsin medical school. A week later, after scouring the literature, Karlin came to what she called...

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