There is still a considerable disconnect between the research and development being done in health care and the diverse populations around the globe, which the industry aims to serve. Diversity in clinical research goes far beyond a language barrier. It’s about understanding the mindset of a patient within a larger context of culture, gender, ethnicity, religion and socioeconomic realities. And it’s something that remains a major obstacle when it comes to clinical trials and drug development.
This is a problem for two reasons: new treatments need to be tested on diverse populations to provide an accurate indication of its efficacy, and all individuals, regardless of background, should be given the opportunity to partake in clinical trials and gain access to new drugs in development. For example, only 3% of adult patients with cancer have access to participate in clinical trials and, therefore, access to potentially life-saving drugs.
Saving Lives With Diversity
Having a diverse patient population in clinical trials is important because medicines can affect people differently. This, coupled with the fact that health systems around the world are entering the era of genomics and precision medicine, means it is crucial to test as many patients as possible. Given that the average timeline of getting a drug to market is 10 years, this is something that needs to be addressed immediately — and even then, we will only see a true impact in a decade’s time.
Without adequate diversity in the clinical trial process, the outcome is undoubtedly flawed and misrepresentative. Early studies of the Alzheimer’s disease biomarker APOE overstated its health impact because the clinical trials focused on white men. When you don’t have the inclusion of diverse communities, you run the risk of making assumptions about drug safety and effectiveness that may not be accurate.
Participation in clinical research also opens the door to potentially life-saving treatments. Being part of a clinical trial gives someone access to a new drug or treatment that could save their life. That’s something everyone of any ethnicity, background, social or economical standing should be given the opportunity to take.
Call to Action:TrialSite News has discussed on multiple occasions the need for diversity in clinical trials. Sign up for the Daily Newsletter for future news and updates regarding this important topic.