PhRMA Calls for Increased Clinical Trial Diversity

“Systemic racism is as real as any disease,” says Rebecca Marklund in a recent PhRMA blog. “Diversifying clinical trials is a critical path to change and PhRMA, and its members, are dedicated to earning the trust and addressing the systematic issues that prevent Black communities from enrolling in clinical trials so that people who want to participate, can,” adds Marklund, who helps lead the Equity Initiative for the PhRMA drug industry trade group.

Marklund cites recent opinion research conducted by PhRMA which provides greater insight into some of the factors that contribute to mistrust and stand in the way of ensuring Black Americans have the information they need to make health decisions. “Currently, only one in 10 Black voters (13%) have participated in a clinical trial or know someone who has participated in a clinical trial for new medicines or treatments,” Marklund says.

Improving representation in clinical trials is pivotal to combatting diseases that disproportionally affect Black Americans, such as diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, and childhood asthma. When PhRMA polled Black voters this month, 89% said tackling these diseases with more diversified clinical trials is important, and respondents named heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, and cancer as diseases they would like to see prioritized for safe and diverse clinical trial research.

“We must continue to aggressively address underlying systemic biases and challenges created by historic wrongs and build community-wide trust to improve patient outcomes for underserved populations,” Marklund says. “Diverse clinical trials that accurately represent the intended patient population can help provide people with access to potentially lifesaving medicines and lead to evidence that better reflects the patients that are most likely to use the medicine if approved.”

Edited by Michael Causey