Uneven Testing Field

While they come with risks, unapproved treatments can be a game-changer for patients who’ve exhausted other options. But there’s a striking racial disparity among participants in drug trials.

Black patients made up less than 5% of participants in trials for 24 of the 31 cancer drugs approved since 2015; there were also disparities among other minority groups.

The imbalance has sparked debate about the role of race in drug development. The FDA has hinted at a diversity problem but has stopped short of setting racial participation quotas. For Jonathan Jackson, MD, of Mass General Hospital, the disparity means one thing: “We aren’t doing good science.”


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