Gender bias in clinical trials of biological agents for severe asthma: A systematic review.

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Asthma is one of the most common chronic diseases characterized by sex disparities. Gender bias is a well-documented issue detected in the design of published clinical trials (CTs). International guidelines encourage researchers to analyze clinical data by sex, gender, or both where appropriate. The objective of this work was to evaluate gender bias in the published CTs of biological agents for the treatment of severe asthma. A systematic review of randomized controlled CTs of the biological agents (omalizumab, benralizumab, reslizumab, mepolizumab or dupilumab) for the treatment of severe asthma was conducted. The literature search was performed using PubMed and EMBASE without language restrictions. This study followed the corresponding international recommendations. We identified a total of 426 articles, of which 37 were finally included. Women represented 60.4% of patients included. The mean percentage of women in these trials was 59.9%, ranged from 40.8% to 76.7%. The separate analysis by sex of the main variable was only performed in 5 of the 37 publications included, and none of the trials analyzed secondary variables by sex. Only 1 of the articles discussed the results separately by sex. No study included the concept of gender in the text or analyzed the results separately by gender. The proportion of women included in CTs was higher compared to publications of other disciplines, where women were under-represented. The analysis of the main and secondary variables by sex or gender, even the discussion separately by sex, was insufficient. This gives rise to potential gender bias in these CTs.
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