Minorities play a vital role in medical research studies

During National Minority Health Month each April, it is crucial to bring to light the health disparities, the differences in health and well-being, experienced by racial and ethnic populations and the necessity for inclusion in clinical research studies, especially pertaining to those diseases that most affect the specific populations.

Members of minority groups may be more vulnerable to certain diseases. Some have higher rates of diabetes, obesity, or cardiovascular disease. Minority participation in clinical research trials helps researchers find better treatments and better ways to fight these diseases and, it uncovers differences by gender, race, and ethnicity which may be important for safe and effective use of therapies.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is working to increase the participation of people in racial, ethnic and other minority groups in the clinical trials that test new medical products.

According to Jonca Bull, M.D., director of the FDA’s Office of Minority Health, there are biological differences in how people process drugs. Variations in genetic coding can make a cancer treatment more toxic in one ethnic group than it would be in another. These variations can make also make drugs like antidepressants and blood-pressure medications less effective in one group than another. Approximately 1/5 of drugs approved in the past 6 years show differences in metabolism or response by race or ethnicity.

An article from the Center for Healthcare Innovation explained how important inclusiveness is. “A large percentage of clinical trials are failing to meet the benchmarks necessary to represent patient populations as a whole. In fact, for clinical trials across the United States, it was determined that less than two percent of trials funded by the National Cancer Institute reached the benchmarks the NIH has set for including minority participants.”

A recent story by the National Public Radio (NPR) found that there are many reasons why minorities are underrepresented in biomedical research, from limited access to specialty care centers where patients are often recruited to trials, to fears of exploitation in medical research. That’s based on scandals like the Tuskegee Institute syphilis study, where researchers crossed serious ethical lines with minority subjects.

It is more important than ever that researchers and medical professionals take the unique health needs of minority populations into account when conducting clinical trials. Meridien Research believes that everyone should have the opportunity to achieve their full potential for health and is committed to providing high quality clinical care for all people.

Meridien Research is pleased to bring quality healthcare to everyone in our communities. If you are interested in learning more about the services we provides or would like information about our clinical research studies, please contact the Meridien Research office nearest to you for more information