Historically, medical research excluded women.
Male-only studies were justified by the (mistaken) belief that what worked for men would work for women—and women are still paying the price for that error today. Due to biological and other differences between the sexes, diseases and the medications used to treat them affect women differently than men.
Between 1997 and 2000, eight out of the 10 drugs that were removed from the U.S. market were pulled because of the side effects that occurred primarily or exclusively among women. U.S. women also suffered more than two million drug-related adverse events, compared with 1.3 million for men, between 2004 and 2013.
With her market research startup FemHealth Insights, Dr. Brittany Barreto aims to advance the innovation of women’s health through comprehensive analysis. The women’s health industry has been underserved, underfunded and underappreciated.
“I want women’s healthcare to be equivalent to men’s healthcare,” Dr. Barreto said.
Based in Raleigh, FemHealth Insights helps business leaders better understand market values and create positive change in women’s health, whether that be investment, partnerships or research. It offers custom consulting, market analysis, direct access to the FemTech founder community and more. (We previously wrote about Barreto last October for one of her other projects, FemTech Focus.)
Dr. Barreto said improving women’s health means improving everyone’s health—including a woman’s (potential) unborn sons, her community and the employees at her businesses. Companies are starting to realize that getting women into leadership roles is great, but “none of that will matter if women are sick or dead.”
Last month, FemHealth Insights was named by NC TECH as one of its 10 Startups To Watch for 2023 among North Carolina startups. It was also one of 23 startups from across the state selected as a semi-finalist for the fall cycle of NC IDEA’s $50K SEED grants.
In June, Dr. Barreto—alongside experienced healthcare executive Jillian Levovitz, who is the startup’s CEO—launched the first and largest database with the latest data from over 1,600 FemTech and FemHealth companies. It has over 30,000 data points.
“The purpose behind the software and the database is to truly motivate more capital and momentum, and industry partners into women’s health,” Dr. Barreto said. She serves as the company’s Chief Innovation Officer.
The companies included—ranging from pre-seed to post-IPO public companies—are across all health verticals and product types with key financial, IP, regulatory and research information.
Levovitz, the CEO, is in charge of the more technical and strategic side of the company, leading data analysis.
Before joining the team, Levovitz launched a medical device called OcciGuide, the first device used in the emergency care setting to treat migraines, a neurological condition that disproportionately impacts women. Being in the same space, she and Dr. Barreto kept running into each other. She even appeared on Barreto’s podcast, FemTech Focus, to discuss OcciGuide.
Joining FemHealth Insights has been an incredible and positive experience for her, Levovitz said. It’s encouraging to see the progress made in elevating women’s health, but there is more to be done.
Levovitz also helped develop the startup’s unique database tagging system.
FemHealth Insights’ database contains over 130 health tags, such as infertility or hot flashes. In addition, there are 108 product tags, such as wearables and hormone tracking, all specific to women’s health.
Dr. Barreto said they found that dividing up broad categories, such as “maternal health”—which refers to a woman’s health from fertilization of the egg to one year after giving birth—is more effective than lumping too much together.
Whether you are a private equity firm conducting market research or a late-stage women’s health company looking for partnerships, you can seamlessly evaluate the FemHealth landscape and use the database for your specific needs. The platform’s customers are primarily pharmaceuticals, along with venture capitalists, late-stage women’s health companies, private equity firms and universities.
“You can search these terms in our database and find exactly what companies you need to look at,” Dr. Barreto said. “Investors have told us it is 20x easier to find companies in our database than in Pitchbook.”
FemHealth Insights offers an annual subscription that saves users $5,000 and a monthly subscription for $1,829. FemTech founders, however, get a 98% discount.
By the end of this year, the FemHealth Insights team aims to sell more licenses to its platform. They also hope to prove that the power of their database will serve and improve women’s health.