Making a ‘sex-difference fact’: Ambien dosing at the interface of policy, regulation, women’s health, and biology

Helen Zhao, Marina DiMarco, Kelsey Ichikawa, Marion Boulicault, Meg Perret, Kai Jillson, Alexandra Fair, Kai DeJesus, Sarah S. Richardson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) 2013 decision to lower recommended Ambien dosing for women has been widely cited as a hallmark example of the importance of sex differences in biomedicine. Using regulatory documents, scientific publications, and media coverage, this article analyzes the making of this highly influential and mobile ‘sex-difference fact’. As we show, the FDA’s decision was a contingent outcome of the drug approval process. Attending to how a contested sex-difference fact came to anchor elite women’s health advocacy, this article excavates the role of regulatory processes, advocacy groups, and the media in producing perceptions of scientific agreement while foreclosing ongoing debate, ultimately enabling the stabilization of a binary, biological sex-difference fact and the distancing of this fact from its conditions of construction.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)475–494
JournalSocial Studies of Science
Issue number4
Early online date6 May 2023
Publication statusPublished - 2023

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • drug regulation
  • SABV
  • scientific facts
  • sex differences
  • women’s health
  • zolpidem


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