Clinical Trials: African American Cancer Patients May Miss Out

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African Americans and Native Americans are under-represented in clinical trials for new cancer drugs, even when a medication is aimed at treating types of cancer that affect them in disproportionately high numbers, according to a study co-published by ProPublica, a nonprofit, investigational newsroom, and Stat, a health and medical news website.

In an analysis of information from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), ProPublica found that, in clinical trials for 24 of the 31 cancer drugs approved since 2015, fewer than 5 percent of study participants were African American. About 13 percent of the U.S. population is African American.

This disparity, which ProPublica says reflects the failure of most drug manufacturers to enroll minority patients and the reluctance of the FDA to compel them to do so, leaves unanswered important questions about the safety and efficacy of new medications in people of different races.

For people with life-threatening cancers who have exhausted all other treatments, experimental drugs can offer improved quality of life and, oftentimes, a longer life as well. Many minority cancer patients trail behind whites in health care quality and are simply not given these opportunities. Drug companies may face additional challenges when enrolling minorities in clinical trials, says ProPublica, and it may be up to the FDA to mandate diversity — a step the agency has not yet taken.

Sourced from: ProPublica