Disparities in Research May Have Negative Outcomes

Medical research is rapidly changing the way in which healthcare professionals provide treatment and service to patients. The promise of personalized medicine is coming ever closer to being realized. Under this model, pharmaceuticals and treatments will ultimately be tailored specifically to the individual, based upon his or her genetic make-up. Fortunately, we are already beginning to see the initial stages of this in practice. However, these advances in science can be jeopardized due to the lack of diversity among those participating in medical and genetic research. For example, imagine a research study that finds evidence that a drug is effective at treating a certain condition among participants. However, if the racial make-up of participants in the study is completely homogenous, it may be unclear how effective this drug is among other racial groups who may have different genetic make-up than the population initially tested. As a consequence, this lack of diversity can exacerbate overall access to effective treatment and medicine and make health outcome disparities worse in the long run.

One way to increase racial diversity in research and therefore begin to minimize the potential health disparities is to decrease barriers to access to clinical trials. Clinical trials in the United States are mandated to try to reach certain levels of racial diversity; however the enforcement of these provisions is weaker than it could be. The CLRC is active in this area of the law to help increase minority participation in medical research to ensure the best outcomes are achieved for all patients.

To find a clinical trial near you, visit: http://www.cancer.gov/clinicaltrials/learningabout/treatment-trial-guide or http://www.cancer411.org

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