When women’s health becomes a business like any other

From the digital application to monitor the menstrual cycle to the yoga of hormones, long-neglected women’s health is a thriving ecosystem on the back of “femtech’s” inception. But also a catch-all market, to the point of becoming a business like any other.

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A recent report by the consulting firm McKinsey confirms this: if women’s health has long been considered a “niche market” (although it concerns half of humanity), things are beginning to change. , with the key too, “new possibilities” for investors.

The start-ups specializing in this area, born with the emergence of new technologies, even have a name: “femtech”, a contraction of “female” and “technology”. This market would represent $50 billion by 2024according to Frost & Sullivan.

But at the confluence of health, a highly monitored sector, and wellness, with much more vague rules: especially menopause clothing, fertility herbal tea, nutritional supplementsthe field of possibilities is enormous and does not respond to identical rules.

Lack of validity

This is one of the problems arising from the growing interest of companies in the subject of women’s health: lack of scientific validation. A medical device must thus meet strict standards.

Founder of the start-up Fizimed, which has developed a perineal rehabilitation probe, Emeline Hahn had her product validated via a clinical trial.

This is not the case for all its competitors, she laments: “Doing a clinical trial makes it possible to prove the interest of the device and to get out of the “gadget” box. But it represents big investments, and that’s also why not everyone does it. » “We often talk about the CE marking, which indicates that a certain product corresponds to the applicable safety standards. But it is not a clinical trial that proves its effectiveness. This can be misleading for consumers”says the entrepreneur.

Another point of attention, specific to online apps: the issue of confidentiality. Because if the European GDPR regulation actually protects the use of health data, there is “a vagueness in which service providers are engulfed” who sometimes prefer to talk about “well-being” data, emphasizes Lydia Morlet-Haïdara, director of the Law and Health Institute at the University of Paris, a digital specialist.

Besides, “When you download an app, you accept the general terms and conditions of use and give your consent: after that, everything depends on what you approve”, warns Mrs. Morlet-Haïdara. The importance of reading these famous “T&Cs” in detail.

Historical female underrepresentation in clinical trials

However, the development of these offers comes as a more or less serious response to problems that have been left unsolved for too long. Because women have often been viewed as patients with more or less valid accusations by traditionally male doctors. Many studies have analyzed the problem and point in particular to the historical underrepresentation of women in clinical trials.

For Doctor Thomas Borel, director of scientific affairs for the association of pharmaceutical companies (Leem), if today there is no difference in the desire to include men and women in clinical trials, it exists. “however, a certain deficit in the analysis by gender”.

A phenomenon that is not without consequences
: The McKinsey report notes that women have “twice as likely as men to experience side effects after taking medication”. Excluding oncology, approximately 1% of health research and innovation spending is devoted to diseases specific to women, McKinsey continues.

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