Only 4% of money for research and development is used to focus on women’s health issues.
At the 2023 National Association of Chain Drug Stores Total Store Expo (NACDS TSE), Drug Topics sat down with Summer Williams Kerley, vice president, clinical market access solutions at Rite Aid Corporation, to hear her insights into the women’s health space. During the conference—held August 12 to 14 in San Diego, California—Kerley was a panelist for the session “Closing the Gap in Health and Wellness for Women.”
This interview has been lightly edited for clarity.
Drug Topics: What are the areas within women’s health that are most lacking in terms of funding and research?
Summer Williams Kerley: I'm going to say all areas. Only 4% of the money that is used for research and development focuses on women's health. If you think about that—I think the majority of shoppers for wellness products are usually women, but there's a lack of research in general for women's health conditions.
How can we start encouraging more discussion about women’s health?
When it comes to women’s health, historically, people are uncomfortable. They're very uncomfortable sometimes, talking about fertility issues and sexual wellness, or even things that women that may suffer from, like hypothyroidism, or how they may have thinning hair. It's really important that our pharmacists are being proactive and understanding, and not just focusing on the needs of their customers from 1 prescription, but really all of their health care needs. That's why it's important for pharmacists to get to know their customers, so that that comfort level is there to talk about conditions that patients may not be comfortable talking to their physician about.
What actions can pharmacists take today to generate support for, and understanding of, the importance of women’s health issues?
Just like any topic that a pharmacist would need to learn about, I think it's really important for pharmacists to look at the whole person. Again, a man in his 40s may be suffering from something completely different than a woman in her 40s. It's about really making sure that they can talk to those customers, and it’s about continuing education in that area.