Women in the Overdose Crisis

Earlier this week, DCBA Associate Attorney Shruti Kulkarni presented at HealthyWomen’s Chronic Pain Summit. Kulkarni’s presentation, “Gender Differences in Pain and Substance Use Disorders: Eliminate Discrimination, Improve Treatment, and Save Lives,” provided an overview of gender differences in the effects of medication and treatment for substance use disorders (SUDs). The presentation explained how pharmaceutical research and development practices that do not account for distinctions in biological factors between genders can lead to increased health risks for women, including missed opportunities for prevention, incorrect diagnoses, misinformed treatments, sickness, and death. Kulkarni also described the unique barriers to SUD treatment that women face, including greater risk of arrest and criminalization, lack of access to care, and lack of childcare. Finally, Kulkarni provided examples of federal initiatives to expand access to and improve treatment of SUDS in women and increase public awareness of the importance of the inclusion of diverse groups of women in clinical research.