Reviewed by Louise Chang on December 08, 2009
Marianne Legato, MD. Founder, Partnership for Gender-Specific Medicine
© 2006 WebMD, Inc. All rights reserved.
Will a woman respond differently to some drugs than men?
Yes. I think first of all, that there are drugs that are metabolized differently depending on the cycle.
For example, we know that Dilantin is metabolized much more quickly right before the menstrual period than at other times.
And interestingly enough, women may have their seizures if they're epileptics only just before they menstruate or on the first day of their menstrual period for that reason.
The same is true for Prednisolone, one of the steroid drugs that are used to control asthma and some women again are told that they are emotionally disturbed right before their period
and that's why they are getting their asthma attack when in fact it's a difference in the way they metabolize their Prednisolone.
There are a whole host of drugs, as you know, some antihistamines have been shown to further prolong an interval on the electrocardiograph machine called the QT interval,
which makes them more susceptible to arrhythmias with the use of these antihistamine drugs.
And so it's very important that you know that the drug that you are about to take has at least been shown to be safe for women.
And it is important for women to insist that any unusual effects or pattern to their illnesses, even though they are taking the drug as it has been prescribed,
are communicated clearly to their physician and they are not just told that, as doctors are prone to say, we don't see that, that must just be in your imagination.
Most drugs have been tested only in men, and we have never remembered to ask in most cases, is it possible that this drug is different in its effect on men and women.
But there continues to be an expanding group of drugs that we know are metabolized differently,
and a subset of that is metabolized differently depending on the cycle, the time in the cycle that a woman takes it.