BIO 2018 in BostonThe BIO International Convention convenes June 4 in Boston, MA. The City-on-a-Hill is an excellent setting for BIO for reasons including its role as a hotbed of both academic and commercial development. As a women’s health specialty CRO, Health Decisions sees another reason to appreciate Boston as a venue for BIO: the city’s history of advocacy in women’s health. For example, it was in Boston that a group of women came together, authored and published “Our Bodies, Ourselves,” a milestone in the evolution of women’s thinking about their health and healthcare needs. More recently, the Connors Center for Women’s Health and Gender Biology at Brigham and Women’s Hospital published Sex-Specific Medical Research: Why Women’s Health Can’t Wait. The Connors Report is a powerful reminder that medical research must be mindful that women may experience illness and respond to medicines differently than men.

BIO in Boston is a fitting occasion for another type of advocacy in women’s health: advocacy of increased funding for commercial ventures to develop new products to improve healthcare outcomes for women. BIO promotes one-on-one discussions that often center on possibilities for partnerships, including partnerships between companies planning development projects and institutions that fund such projects. A focus on women’s health at BIO 2018 would be an appropriate and timely industry response to a December 2017 opinion piece that Sabrina Johnson and Jessica Grossman published in STAT: “The biotech industry needs to pay more attention to women’s health.” Dr. Johnson of Daré Bioscience and Dr. Grossman of Medicines360 point out the shocking disparity between expenditures on women’s health, which were 24% greater than expenditures on men’s health in 2015, and investment in women’s health startups, which “is measured in millions of dollars, not billions.”

Health Decisions hopes that BIO 2018 will reveal a trend toward increased investment in development of women’s health products. We believe increased funding for commercial development of new women’s health products would not only speed progress in addressing women’s significant unmet medical needs but also reward investors. On the other hand, the history of women’s health is replete with instances in which progress was dependent on passionate, well-reasoned advocacy. Changing the investment landscape for women’s health may require another chapter in women’s health advocacy – this time, advocacy by a Women’s Health Special Interest Group that provides a forum at events like BIO and DIA for discussion of ways to make investment in women’s health projects commensurate with the scale of women’s significant unmet medical needs and the women’s healthcare market.

Health Decisions is willing to assist with organizing an initial meeting to discuss how best to organize and define a Women’s Health Special Interest Group within the biopharma industry. One mission of such a group would be to encourage appropriate investment to enable and accelerate investment in products to improve women’s health. To schedule a meeting with Health Decisions’ Chief Executive Officer Patrick Phillips at BIO to discuss forming a Women’s Health Special Interest Group or, separately, to discuss a specific clinical development project or program, please contact us.