Over 850 medicines are in development in the US for diseases that exclusively or disproportionately affect women, a report by the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (Phrma ) has revealed.

The number includes 139 for cancers that affect women and 110 for auto-immune diseases, which strike women three times more often than men.

The medicines are all either in human clinical trials or are awaiting review by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Medical researchers are making progress into understanding why women suffer disproportionately from a number of diseases, for example, about 90% of Americans suffering from lupus, migraines and fibromyalgia are women.

Those insights are providing information to help develop medicines to attack diseases such as osteoporosis, multiple sclerosis, depression, rheumatoid arthritis and age-related macular degeneration, all of which affect more women than men.

PhRMA president and CEO John Castellani said, “As recently as a couple of decades ago, there was a basic assumption that what was good medically for men was good for women in almost every case.

“Today, our increasing knowledge of the less obvious differences between men and women is providing great promise for new and better treatments that will benefit both sexes,” he added.

A better understanding of how women react differently to stress than men is helping researchers understand how to approach treatments for autoimmune diseases, and psychiatric illnesses such as depression and anxiety.