Dr. Kevin Williams recently elaborated on the importance of clinical trials. The chief medical officer for Rare Disease Pfizer Biopharmaceuticals described his disappointment in a Phase III clinical trial where rivipansel, a potential treatment for vaso-occlusive crisis endured by most that are afflicted with sickle cell disease, failed to meet its endpoint. Dr. Williams reminds all that cutting-edge research and clinical trials are key to making an impact for patients and represent an critically foundational building block for new treatments.
Dr. Williams began his commentary on a failed trial involving sickle cell disease patients. African Americans or Blacks are disproportionately impacted by this genetic disease. His recent article in The Charlotte Post is on the vital importance of clinical trials. Biopharmaceutical sponsors, CROs, and even academic medical centers struggle to recruit sufficient numbers of African Americans for advanced, but experimental new therapies not yet approved. There is not sufficient trust between many in the African American community and health systems, not to mention biopharmaceutical sponsors. TrialSite News has written about why some of these challenges to trust exist and some possible suggestions for how to overcome trust issues which derive from more deep-seated societal forces.
Dr. Williams, an African American, has a prestigious role in one the world’s largest biopharmaceutical companies. Yet, he understands the importance of connecting back to the patient. While representing Pfizer’s efforts with Rare Disease, he understands that patients must be at the center if research will proceed at the pace and intensity levels necessary for waves of breakthrough therapies in the future. Committed professionals, such as Dr. Williams, taking time to educate, engage, and connect, are needed to deepen and enrichen community research networks.