Minority participation in clinical trials continues to be a concern for industry professionals. As stated in a blog posted on diversity in clinical trials, Dr. Kwame Osei says “minority participation in clinical trials remains lower than in the general population, with minorities making up only 10% of participants in multicenter clinical trials.” Not only are minority participants lacking, but minority researchers are lacking as well. The resulting danger of this reality lies in the tremendous amount of data that remains unknown, yet could have a substantial impact on clinical research.
“People don’t know how important [diversity in clinical research] is,” says James H. Powell, MD, principal investigator for Project IMPACT (Increase Minority Participation and Awareness of Clinical Trials). He suggests that different populations could have different adverse effects to the same medications, and therefore pulling these medications off the market without looking at all populations, hinders research discovery.
“We’ve sold people on the idea of personalized medicine,” he says. “But first we have to understand persons and the diversity of people. It’s hard to say we have the right drug for a particular person if we haven’t tested the drug in that population.”
There are a variety of barriers that hinder minorities from participating in clinical trials, and can include:
- Mistrust of the medical system and large institutions
- Lack of clinical trial awareness
- Cultural and language barriers
- Protocol designs that make it harder for minorities to meet inclusion criteria
These are just some of the barriers that exist for minorities in clinical trials, but these barriers affect more than just minorities themselves. They affect us all. As Dr. Powell states, “When we discover differences, and we investigate the basis of those differences, it develops whole new lines of discovery.”
What are your thoughts on this topic? How can the industry help itself by embracing minorities in the clinical trial process?
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