Rachel: More women versus men have MS by a margin of at least two to one, and still growing, but this is not well reflected in clinical study populations – why not?
Prof Carolyn Young, Consultant Neurologist: Well, in my experience there’s no exclusion of female volunteers. I guess it will partly reflect the nature of the clinic, because the recruitment comes from the clinic and if in a certain place there’s a bias that women are not able to access follow-up as frequently or with the same – how can I put it – seniority of clinician, ie if the clinician isn’t an active trial recruiter, then they simply won’t be considered for studies.
Then of course it’s a dynamic, because these people are volunteers, so it might be that they’re offered a study but they think about the time constraints balanced against family responsibilities or work. And sometimes, of course, the realisation that the study will preclude any planned pregnancy throughout the period of the trial, which is a very standard requirement of any drug study, makes people think, I’m altruistic, but in my life plan I’m not sure I can commit to no pregnancy for the next two, three, whatever years.