• Joanna Thomson

News: Pfizer exec demands greater BAME participation in clinical trials


At the National Medical Association’s annual conference, held last Sunday, chief patient officer and executive vice president at the world-renowned pharma, Freda Lewis-Hall, MD, spoke out about the prevalent investigator bias against ethnic minority patients and the “woefully lagging” number of BAME physicians. Lewis-Hall also called for the education of minority groups concerning clinical trials and their relative safety as a means of tackling the systemic issue at its root. Nonetheless, the Pfizer exec made clear that a lack of education was grounded in a lack of

overall awareness made possible by research sites and clinical trial recruiters: ‘[what] the data tells us about participation in clinical trials of [these groups] is they are much less likely to be asked [by research officials].”


BAME participation in clinical research is an absolute essential to clinical studies today. With the devastating effects of the coronavirus pandemic, it is clearer than ever to see the prejudices and systemic racism apparent in the clinical research and clinical recruitment process. Right now, BAME individuals are at a higher risk of dying from COVID-19 than their white counterparts; and it looks unlikely that this inherent bias will be tackled due to the current, pessimistic state of participation by these groups in clinical trials.



According to a recent report by the FDA, only 4% of cancer clinical trial participants are black, 4% are Hispanic, and 15% are Asian. These results - as president of the American Medical Association, Susan Bailey, MD, points out - are similar to the average participation rate across clinical research. With studies showing that certain peoples can respond to the same medical therapy very differently, a lack of diversity is not only damaging from a moral perspective, but it may also have potentially dangerous (or fatal), undocumented results on part of the population.


What can research sites do?


Beginning in schools and ending in older years’ health courses, the importance of healthy dieting and lifestyle choices must be fundamental to everyday life. That fact is that around half of all Americans are not aware that clinical trials even exist.; and if we can take anything for this, it is that a lack of familiarity equals a lack of confidence. One part of the solution lies with clinical trial sponsors and research sites investing in the wider education of BAME groups - only then can this population be truly included in the clinical trial conversation.


The second part of the solution concerns itself with accessibility. Virtual trial recruitment notes that distance, disability, and the need for frequent in-person visits are also major barriers to participation, across ethnic groups, in clinical trials with standard clinical protocol; with a study in Alzheimer’s disease finding that home visits were the factor most likely to enable greater participation. The fact is that virtual research visits could reduce the time and travel burden of participating in research.


Carrying out clinical studies from the comfort of the participant’s home is the invaluable and entirely unique benefit of virtual trials. As public opinion sways towards safety and security above all else, when it comes to going digital, we recommend, for the sake of everyone’s health, the sooner, the better.



Here at Citruslabs, we've created the ideal patient recruitment dashboard to help any researcher improve their current metrics. With over 3 million patients on record, we ensure research sites are connected to a thoroughly educated and engaged pool of participants; so, it is no wonder why we have such high patient confidence! Now, we would say that other models are available - but this would be a lie. In fact, unlike that offered by other patient recruitment companies, our easy-to-use dashboard is the first-of-its-kind for the market; giving researchers a unique insight into their patients’ wants and needs via industry-leading technology. The future of clinical recruitment starts here.

  • Interested in finding out more? Get in touch with us here, and check out our archives for all our top tips and tricks on running successful clinical trials in today's constantly changing industry.

Still a little unsure? Check out what our customers have to say about us here.

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