Clinical Trials for cancer drugs: the challenge of including disparity

This is the issue that emerged from a study led by a group of researchers from the University of British Columbia (UBC), the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center in Seattle, and Baylor University in Texas.

Although“… there has been awareness regarding disparity”, as explained by Dr. Jonathan Loree, the study’s lead author and assistant professor at the UBC department of medicine, division of medical oncology, the lack of ethnic diversity in clinical trials for cancer drugs should be considered more thoroughly by the scientific community.

230 cancer drug trials worldwide have been evaluated, considering 111,293 participants between July 2008 and June 2018: fewer than 8% of them have reported information regarding the most common ethnic identities in the US: White, Asian, black and Hispanic. Moreover, it has been shown that only 22% of black patients and 44% of Hispanic patients have been enrolled, compared with expectations, and that many of the American trials have considered only white participants, without explaining the different ethnicity within the groups.

This is undoubtedly a relevant issue, because we know that not all medicines are effective for all patients, especially in the case of genetic disorders: “I think raising awareness of this issue is an important first step, which needs to be followed by engagement of physicians, their patients, and regulatory agencies within each health care system to learn how we can improve disparity“, Dr. J. Loree pointed out.