We need more minorities in clinical trials

The trusted physician-patient relationship is a good way to recruit them

By Marjorie A. Speers, Scientific American

Concern over the lack of significant minority participation by patients in clinical trials has waxed and waned over the past 30 years. Now, there is growing momentum in favor if boosting the numbers—and it’s about time, because minority patients can no longer wait. We need to do something now to improve health equity by ensuring that new medicines are tested for safety and efficacy in all populations.

Clinical trials conducted today in the United States lean heavily toward populations that are 80-90 percent white, as reported in a recent Scientific American editorial. Failure to give people of color the opportunity to participate in trials to is unacceptable when close to 40 percent of the United States population belongs to a racial or ethnic minority group. Further, it is estimated that minorities will represent the majority in the United States population by 2050.

Most individuals involved in medicine, research, and public policy agree this is an unbalanced equation. The products developed in these trials—drugs, biologics, and medical devices—might not be best suited for certain minorities. Some minorities are affected differently than white people by diseases, and react differently to medical treatments. But who they are and how they’re affected cannot be known when some groups are not included in the studies designed to test these medicines. Read more …