Is the FDA Failing Women?

AMA Journal of Ethics – Viewpoint – September 2021 – Madris Kinard, MBA and Rita F. Redberg, MD, MSc


Many devices in current use were marketed before the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) began regulating devices in 1976. Thus, manufacturers of these devices were not required to demonstrate safety and effectiveness, which presents both clinical and ethical problem for patients, especially for women, as some of the most dangerous devices—such as implanted contraceptive devices— are used only in women. This article investigates whether and to what extent devices for women receive less rigorous scrutiny than devices for men. This article also suggests how the FDA Center for Devices and Radiological Health could more effectively ensure safety and effectiveness of devices that were marketed prior to 1976.

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