GAO Posts

FDA Proposes Guidelines for Improving Representation of Women in Clinical Studies

Mark Crawford

On December 19 the FDA released a new draft guidance recommending improvements to medical device manufacturers’ clinical study designs that do a better job of evaluating the effectiveness of their products for women. The draft guidance can be read at

Entitled “Draft Guidance for Industry and Food and Drug Administration Staff Evaluation of Sex Differences in Medical Device Clinical Studies,” the document aims to correct the historic underrepresentation of women in clinical studies. A 2001 report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) on FDA-reviewed drug studies found that while women represented 52 percent of study enrollees, 30 percent of study documents did not report outcomes by sex and nearly 40 percent did not report enrollment demographics. A 2009 study of cardiovascular device pre-market applications showed that pivotal studies that reported sex enrolled an average of 33.9 percent women. (more…)