Retailers Charge Women More Than Men for Minoxidil

Thursday, June 08, 2017 | Research and Publications

Women pay an average of 40 percent more than men for minoxidil foams, according to a new analysis from researchers at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania in JAMA Dermatology.

The price difference appears despite the fact that the men’s and women’s version of the products – which are branded and marketed differently -- contain the same drug strength and inactive ingredients.

“Gender-based consumer price differences are well-documented, but we believe this is the first analysis comparing the pricing of medication along gender lines,” says Jules Lipoff, MD, an assistant professor of Dermatology and the study’s lead author.

Dr. Lipoff and his team looked at data from 24 different pharmacies across four states and compared them by retail price. In each case, they used the price of the largest container available by volume. When prices varied between different locations within the same chain, they used the average cost.

For the foam products containing five percent minoxidil, researchers found the cost was 40 percent higher per ounce (30 mL) for women than men.

“These are products with the exact same ingredients,” Lipoff says. “They come in different amounts and packaging based on gender, so for the most part, women probably do not even realize they are paying more.”

The justification could be that women will get more out of the product since they require fewer daily doses, or that there could be differences in the cost of product testing, approval, and marketing, but that still leaves women paying more per ounce, he suggests.

“We recommend that our female patients buy the male version of the product, because it doesn’t seem right to ask a woman to pay more when the products are, for all intents and purposes, identical.”

Lipoff’s team also compared the cost of women’s two percent solution to men’s five percent solution and found them to be virtually identical.

Photo Credit: Penn Medicine

Photo Caption: Dr. Jules Lipoff

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