May 10, 2023

Episode 3: Daré Bioscience is Advocating For Equity in Women’s Health and Building a Pipeline of Differentiated Treatment Options

Women make up half of the globe’s population, but the dollars devoted to finding treatments for women’s unique health issues—beyond conditions such as breast cancer—are significantly underfunded. Only 1 percent of research dollars are invested in women’s health concerns, and women’s health represents only 2 percent of the development pipeline of preclinical products for non-cancer related conditions, according to a 2022 McKinsey & Company report. Sabrina Martucci Johnson, president and CEO of Daré Bioscience, says this is not congruent, at all, with the need and demand for such products and the fact that women account for 80 percent of consumer purchase decisions for healthcare.

“A lot of the women’s health indications are conditions that are simply just a part of being a woman. They’re not life threatening, but they’re life altering in many cases,” Sabrina says. Symptoms of some non-life threatening conditions, such as endometriosis (affecting 11 percent of women) and menopause (which will affect every woman in her lifetime) can be disruptive and cause women to miss work, leading to losses in productivity.

This gender gap in product development motivated Sabrina to found Daré Bioscience (pronounced Dah-ray and meaning “to give” in Italian) in 2015, which is focused on finding novel treatments for women’s health issues—encompassing reproductive, vaginal, and sexual health—and bringing them to market.

In this episode of LifeLines—airing just before National Women’s Health Week—we delve more into these healthcare inequities and learn about how Daré is addressing these unmet health needs with its product pipeline. The company’s first FDA-approved product, Xaciato, came out in 2021 and is an antibiotic gel for bacterial vaginosis—a common problem affecting 35 percent of women ages 15 to 44. Daré is in its Phase 3 clinical trial for a monthly hormone-free contraceptive, in collaboration with Bayer—the only company that’s built an over billion-dollar contraceptive brand. It’s also in Phase 2 for its product Sildenafil, a treatment for female sexual arousal disorder. “We are very proud to be working in an area that has been overlooked. While there are numerous products for erectile dysfunction for men, there’s still not anything FDA-approved for the analogous condition in women,” Sabrina says.

Sabrina shares the challenges of raising capital when you’re one of the first in your field, despite having proof of concept, and how three mentors (and a chance encounter on an elevator) were instrumental in launching Daré.

You can follow Sabrina Martucci Johnson and Daré Bioscience on LinkedIn.

Interested in becoming a member or joining us on the LifeLines podcast? Email [email protected].

Host: Chris Conner
Executive Producer: Marie Tutko
Senior Producer: Vincenzo Tarantino
Associate Producer: Lauren Panetta
Program & Research Coordinator: Katy Burgess
Transcripts By: Jessica Schneider
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Graphic Design By: Raquel Papike