COVID Clinical Trials Lack Diversity

By Steven Reinberg
HealthDay reporter

MONDAY, Aug 17, 2020 (HealthDay News) – Although minorities pay a disproportionate price in terms of rates of illness and death from COVID-19, they are under-represented in clinical trials, according to a new study.

The researchers are calling on the government, medical journals, and research funders to ensure trials include minorities so that the results can be extrapolated to the American population.

In the COVID-19 adaptive treatment trial involving more than 1,000 patients testing the effectiveness of the antiviral remdesivir, only 20% of participants are black and 23% are Hispanic or Native American.

In the clinical trial funded by the drug’s maker, Gilead, with nearly 400 patients, only 11% are black and less than 1% are Hispanic or Native American.

“The vast majority of patients in these two large clinical trials were Caucasians,” said researcher Daniel Chastain, clinical assistant professor of pharmacy at the University of Georgia’s Albany campus.

“Knowing that African Americans die at a higher rate than Caucasians, can I say this drug will work in them too? Yes they recruited a group of patients and yes they got this data as quickly as possible, but can we use this information to inform treatments in all patients? “he said in a college press release.

Trials with remdesivir have shown that patients given the drug recovered from COVID-19 somewhat faster than those given a placebo. But minority patients often have more severe symptoms and complications of the disease, so it’s not clear whether they will respond to the drug as well.

“Why don’t we put in place an infrastructure for clinical trial sites in areas heavily affected by COVID?” Chastain said. “If we had included Albany, these clinical trials would have been more diverse and would have been much more representative of what the coronavirus pandemic looks like in our region and the United States.”

The report was released on August 12 in the New England Journal of Medicine.

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SOURCE: University of Georgia, press release, August 13, 2020

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