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"Stand up to Cancer" stands up to clinical research bias

It’s awe-inspiring news for our research community as industry-leading charity, Stand Up to Cancer (SU2C), announces their plans to address a lack of diversity among cancer research. The company has brought in an initiative that will now require companies looking for SU2C-supported grants to up their game on meeting diversity quotas. Applications will now call for three new component all concerning health equity:

  1. A summary of who will benefit among the population from their clinical research;

  2. A detailed patient recruitment and retention plan that is inclusive to historically underrepresented groups; and

  3. A letter of approval from the institution’s Chief Diversity Officer, or someone of an equivalent position.

Not only that but SU2C is upping their funding for the group’s Health Equity Research Breakthrough Team by up to $6.4 million. SU2C CEO Sung Poblete made clear that the changes are to ensure minority representation across cancer clinical trials is addressed: “We are confident that this initiative will make a significant and meaningful impact to ensure all communities have equal access to potentially life-saving treatments.”

The wider issue

While SU2C’s work deserves the highest of praise, the fact that diversity is still a major issue for the health sector makes the company’s success a bitter-sweet one. According to a report by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), only 4% of cancer clinical trial participants are black, 4% are Hispanic, and 15% are Asian. Socio-economic, cultural, trust and other factors were reported to be the root of the problem. Yet, the sector issues are, unfortunately, more than just sociological and pose a physical threat to the health of minority populations. In many ways ethnicity is similar to sex, 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, undocumented results on part of the population. In short, a lack of diversity means inconclusive clinical studies, and inconclusive clinical trials mean FDA disapproval.

What we can do

What we can take away from SU2C’s announcement is that work is finally being done by the industry giants to tackle the systemic issue. SU2C has set the standard for CROs to match and exceed, and this is exactly what we can do to tackle the issue ourselves. Research sites must set and meet quotas on diversity. We need to educate potential patients on their eligibility for trials and provide our clinical studies with ethical codes of conduct that place importance on ethnicity. Issues of race are sadly not ones that can be resolved overnight, so, while hopeful for the future, SU2C’s announcement is only a milestone in the long walk to equality.

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.

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