Lack of racial diversity a bane in cancer drug trials

August 28, 2019

Drugs can aid recovery and treatment in many circumstances, notably in cancer therapy, but there has been an underlying concern about their effectiveness in some patients due to insufficient testing. New research by several American institutions, including the University of Texas, once again highlights the lack of racial/ethnic diversity in clinical trials for cancer drugs which could affect its efficacy and market distribution.

Cancer estimates among the US population was calculated using data from about 230 US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) oncology drug trial results between July 2008 and June 2018 and national census data. From this,the researchers noted that less than 8% of cancer drug trials reported participation from the four major races in the US, namely the whites, blacks, Hispanics and Asians.Moreover, despite the incidence of cancer in black and Hispanic patients, these were significantly underrepresented at 22% and 44% respectively. Unfortunately, the enrolment rates and reporting about race in trials have minimal changes since.

Dr. Jonathan Loree, an assistant professor in the university’s department of medicine, said that the findings are similar to the Native American participation in Canadian drug trial results.

Drug trials may have surprising results, as seen in a lung cancer drug trial with average results in the global population, but showed incredible success with young Asian women who report a distinctive genetic mutation.

So, besides upholding societal equity in health care, minority engagement is important to ensure the validity of trial results and reliable benefits of cancer drugs for all patients.


Category: Features, Pharmaceuticals

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