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Missing From Trials

African-American patients are missing out on cancer drug clinical trial opportunities, Stat News and ProPublica report. Their analysis of US Food and Drug Administration data found that for most trials for cancer drugs approved since 2015, fewer than 5 percent of the patients who participated were African American, even as African Americans make up 13.4 percent of the US population.

As Stat News and ProPublica note, there are numerous reasons why minorities including and African Americans may be less likely to participate in research, including financial costs and logistical challenges and a distrust of the medical profession. At the same time, they add that FDA is encouraging, but not requiring the inclusion of more minorities in clinical trials.

By not including minorities in trials, Stat News and ProPublica say patients miss out on cutting-edge treatments and trials sponsor miss out on identifying subsets of the population who may react differently to the therapy before it goes into wider circulation.

It also means that "we aren't doing good science," Jonathan Jackson, from the Community Access, Recruitment, and Engagement Research Center at Massachusetts General Hospital, tells Stat News and ProPublica. "If we aren't doing good science and releasing these drugs out into the public, then we are at best being inefficient, at worst being irresponsible."