By Courtney Christian, Senior Director, Policy and Research at PhRMA
Late last year, PhRMA published the first ever industry-wide principles on clinical trial diversity, set to take effect in April 2021. At the core of these new principles is the need for our industry to better serve historically underserved populations and address the systemic issues that deter mainly Black and Brown communities from participating in clinical trials.
By committing to enhancing diversity in clinical trial populations, we can better reflect the patients that will use the new therapy or medicine being studied and contribute to improved health outcomes. For example, Black and Brown populations are at higher risk for certain diseases, such as sickle cell disease, diabetes or heart disease. These chronic diseases run in my family and it is especially important to me that clinical trials for the development of new medicines for those diseases aim to reflect families and communities like mine. Ultimately, diverse clinical trials support a better understanding of the medicine. This is one important way the industry can improve health care for the patients and communities that we serve.
This comes as part of our industry’s greater effort to rectify health inequities. In the wake of important and timely conversations surrounding diversity, equity and inclusion in Black and Brown communities across America, we are pushing for necessary, positive and long-term systematic changes to better meet people’s needs. This pandemic has made even more glaringly obvious that, as one might expect, areas that have better access to care, greater economic opportunity and resources are faring better than areas where they are not. We want to be a part of solutions that ensure equitable access to the best available treatments for everyone, especially underserved patients and communities of color. First, we must listen to the needs of these communities and understand how they are affected by health disparities. Then, we will help influence the conversation and policies around diversity in clinical trials and health disparities and increase our local engagement with Black and Brown communities.
It is with these core clinical trial diversity principles in mind that the biopharmaceutical industry commits to continuing to work with patients, patient advocacy groups, regulatory authorities, health care practitioners, academics and policymakers to define the systematic and impactful approaches that can enhance the diversity of clinical trial participants and help reduce health care disparities. Now is the time for all of us across the health care spectrum to band together to ensure that Black and Brown Americans – no matter where they live – have access to quality health care and treatment.
Learn more about these efforts at phrma.org/equity.