Why do we care if participants in clinical trials are from diverse backgrounds? Because clinical trials are the mechanism we use to ensure that medical interventions are safe and effective for everyone. When we only conduct trials on a homogenous group we miss critical information about how treatments or medications affect people outside of that group.
These statistics are taken directly from the FDA whitepaper, Dialogues on Diversifying Clinical Trials: African Americans make up roughly 12% of the US population, but 5% of clinical trial participants. Hispanics are 16% of the population and 1% of clinical trial participants. Diabetes and hypertension are more prevalent in both groups than in the general population. There are significant barriers to participation in research by women and minorities, including: mistrust of the medical establishment, budgetary constraints, lack of access to research centers and reluctance on the part of researchers to diversify.
It is 2016 and well past time for clinical trials that reflect the racial make-up of the population. We aren’t all white men aged 18-24. It’s time to stop ignoring the rest of us.
*The information in this post is part of a class project being undertaken by the author and two classmates.*