NWHN in Action – May/June 2013

Taken from the May/June 2013 issue of the Women's Health Activist Newsletter.

Network Program Update

We love sharing news about issues of concern to our community through the Women’s Health Activist. Now, we’re introducing a new column to share updates about some of the issues and activities staff are working on. We plan to bring you this update regularly throughout the year, to highlight ways the Network is advancing women’s health issues every day.

Raising Women’s Voices for the Health Care We Need

The new health care law has many benefits, but women can’t get those benefits if they don’t know about them. So, Network staff have been deeply involved in efforts to make sure women know the new health care law’s benefits through our Countdown to Coverage educational campaign. Follow the Campaign on Twitter @ourcountdown and on our Facebook page, Countdown to Coverage.

Know a college student who is still paying co-pays for contraception? The new health law was supposed to change all that, but some colleges are moving slowly to implement these benefits. Through the NWHN’s Our Campus Our Coverage campaign, we’ve reached out to more than 100 colleges and universities to inform students about the new health care law’s benefits for young women. If you want to host an event at your school, contact Program Coordinator Melissa Torres-Montoya at [email protected].

Challenging Dangerous Drugs & Devices

Think it’s a bad idea for a drug intended to help with weight loss to also cause heart disease? So do we! Executive Director Cindy Pearson wrote an official letter to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommending that it require drug companies to demonstrate that obesity drugs improve women’s health, evaluate cardiovascular safety, and assess whether obesity drugs are safe and actually work when used long-term.

Sometimes you’ve got to deliver your message in person, so Senior Program Coordinator Kate Ryan and Cindy Pearson met with the head of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. They asked the agency to follow our recommendations and strengthen the agency’s safety and effectiveness standards for osteoporosis drugs.

Some drugs and devices affect women and men differently, so it’s not right that women are often left out of clinical trials! Kate Ryan testified at the FDA and urged the agency to capture women’s and men’s different experiences in clinical trials. We’re particularly interested in learning more about women’s experiences in trials for cardiovascular disease drugs.

Guaranteeing Access to Reproductive Health Services

Women shouldn’t be prevented from taking an effective drug just because it could cause birth defects if the woman happened to get pregnant while using it. We believe that women can safely use these drugs if they are also provided with complete and accurate information about the range of contraceptive options available to them. Kate Ryan spoke at an FDA meeting and urged the agency to respect women’s reproductive autonomy while minimizing the risk of these drugs.

President Obama’s proposed budget took important steps for improving coverage for abortion care for women living in Washington, DC and serving in the Peace Corps, but it still included restrictions that limit access for millions of women. Disappointed?  So were we!  Read the NWHN's response at: https://nwhn.org/2013/04/10/standing-women-dc-and-peace-corps.