The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is actively working to increase the participation of racial, ethnic and other minority groups in clinical trials for new medical products. While an ongoing effort, it has recently gotten a media spotlight with NPR reporting on the significant deficiencies in testing. Representation of minority groups in clinical trials is lacking, leading to biased test results.
Why Minority Representation is Important
According to NPR, two percent of cancer studies and less than five percent of pulmonary studies included enough minorities for useful conclusions. Common asthma controller medications don't work well with Puerto Rican and African-American populations. Those of Asian descent with epilepsy can get serious skin and internal organ damage from mainstream seizure medications. These and many others are examples of why adequate minority representation in clinical trials is important.
Unfortunately, there are many factors that have negatively influenced the ability of researchers to get the minority participants they need. According to a study from Rutgers University, certain barriers exist including social and economic difficulties, cultural myths or beliefs on some illnesses or diseases, fear and mistrust, and language barriers to name a few. Negative, ethically unjustified historical clinical trials like the Tuskegee Study can also influence a minority individual's thoughts towards participating in a trial. Slim research budgets also lessen the ability of researchers to recruit diverse populations.
Safeguards for Consumers
While there are still many improvements to be made, you can be proactive as a consumer and take steps to ensure you or a loved one's treatment isn't adversely affected due to race. Before beginning a new treatment or prescription, do some research on potential race or ethnic-related side effects. Make sure you consult with your physician and discuss any concerns.
With more ethnic minority inclusion in clinical trials comes better research, resulting in safer and more effective drugs. The mission of the FDA mirrors this idea, looking at "advancing the public health by helping to speed innovations that make medicines more effective, safer and more affordable and by helping the public get the accurate, science-based information they need to used medicines and foods to maintain and improve their health."
If you believe you have been unfairly treated or injured in relation to your minority status, contact an experienced personal injury attorney at Lipkin & Apter for a free consultation.