WASHINGTON, DC (May 18, 2016) – Barbra Streisand, co-founder of the Women’s Heart Alliance, sent a letter to all U.S. Senators this week to encourage swift passage of the Advancing NIH Strategic Planning and Representation in Medical Research Act (S. 2745). The bipartisan legislation will lead to more prevention options, better treatment outcomes and, ultimately, cures for both women and men through strengthened analysis of and reporting on sex and gender differences in medical research. The full letter follows:
On the heels of National Women’s Health Week, we urge the full Senate to swiftly pass the Advancing NIH Strategic Planning and Representation in Medical Research Act (S. 2745) in the medical innovation legislative package marked up by the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions earlier this year. The Advancing NIH Strategic Planning and Representation in Medical Research Act is bipartisan legislation introduced by Senators Alexander, Murray, Collins, Warren, Kirk and Baldwin, to strengthen policies around the inclusion of women and minorities in biomedical research. Far too many women are dying from preventable diseases. The Women’s Heart Alliance strongly supports this legislation because it will ensure sex and gender differences in medical research are analyzed and improve our knowledge of how diseases uniquely affect women.
Heart disease kills one woman nearly every eighty seconds and more women than all cancers combined. Yet, only a small fraction of the NIH budget is spent on women’s heart disease research. Today, only 35 percent of participants in all heart-related studies are women – even though heart disease kills 1 in 3 women. African American and Hispanic women are at even greater risk.
In an October 2015 report entitled National Institutes of Health: Better Oversight Needed to Help Ensure Continued Progress Including Women in Health Research, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) confirmed that we are not examining closely enough how and why sex and gender differences impact heart disease and other chronic diseases. The GAO report included several recommendations to strengthen reporting on and analysis of sex differences in medical research in order to further understand sex as a biological variable. S. 2745 would codify the GAO’s recommendations into law.
Looking at sex differences in medical research is fundamental for advancing medical innovation. We can maximize the value of limited research dollars if we do a better job of analyzing how heart disease and other deadly diseases impact women as well as men. Making improvements in the way research is reported and analyzed by gender will lead to more prevention options, better treatment outcomes and, ultimately, cures for both women and men.
We call upon the full Senate to swiftly consider and pass the medical innovation legislation recently marked up by the Senate HELP Committee, including the Advancing NIH Strategic Planning and Representation in Medical Research Act to ensure all research, including that on heart disease, includes sex and gender analysis.
About the Women’s Heart Alliance
The Women’s Heart Alliance (WHA) was formed to raise awareness, encourage action and drive new research to fight women’s heart disease. It’s a unique collaboration between two of America’s leading medical institutions—the Barbra Streisand Women’s Heart Center at Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute and the Ronald O. Perelman Heart Institute at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center— and two major philanthropists and leaders in business and entertainment, Barbra Streisand and Ronald O. Perelman. Learn more at www.fighttheladykiller.org, and on Facebook, Twitter @FightLadyKiller and Instagram @fighttheladykiller.