Health Team

Blacks under-represented in clinical trials

Posted September 24, 2010

Clinical trials are common for new drugs that claim to treat chronic or even life-threatening illnesses. The success of those drugs depends on a diverse group of participants, but blacks are often under-represented.

Trial centers are trying to remove the barriers to increase their numbers.

Thirteen years ago, while in Japan, Merice Brown developed Hepatitis C. Different treatments worked for awhile, only for the symptoms to return. Then he learned about a clinical trial at Duke for a drug combination which included a new drug, Telaprevir, which worked.

“I've been cured of Hepatitis C,” Brown said.

Even without a cure, Duke Neurologist Dr. Mark Stacy says there are many benefits to enrolling in a trial, such as free care.

“I think you learn more about your medical condition. You have a chance to talk to physicians and other health care professionals more frequently,” he said.

Brown said he also saw it as a public service.

“The medical field could benefit from the trial that I was in to help other people in the future,” he said.

Blacks under-represented in clinical trials Blacks under-represented in clinical trials

Researchers would like to recruit more black people, like Merice Brown, but that population is under-represented for various reasons, including lack of information, lack of access to care, transportation and, some might say, a historic distrust of medical institutions.

“Anytime we have populations that are not well represented, it is the health professionals’ responsibility to build a trust with that community,” Stacy said.

A drug's success depends on knowing how different populations respond to it. Brown was fortunate that he responded well to his Hepatitis C therapy, which may help speed up it's availability to everyone.

The AWARE for All Conference on Saturday at North Carolina Central University is one attempt to reach out to the black community with more information about clinical trials.


This story is closed for comments.

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  • geosol Sep 27, 2010

    "Maybe too many blacks are too busy working their undocumented pharmacies to participate in these trials." There it is, right on time! You just knew this would bring out the bigots, and we're seldom disappointed.

  • kikinc Sep 27, 2010

    You never pay to be in a research trial. You RECEIVE money, most times. Some studies don't compensate. I'm a research technician at an area hospital. I also participate in a bunch of research studies. To date, I've made $1800 this year. However, it IS taxed, so I won't see all of it :(

  • umop apisdn Sep 27, 2010

    souther wisdom is correct.

  • clintrialsmonitor Sep 27, 2010

    It was great to see that you mentioned AWARE for ALL as a way for all people to learn more about participation in clinical trials. is another good resource for your readers who are interested in finding out more about clinical trials. CISCRP (Center for Information and Study on Clinical Research Participation) is a non-profit organization focused on educating and informing the public about clinical research participation. CISCRP is not involved in recruiting patients for clinical trials nor is it involved in conducting clinical trials. The website provides information online as well as suggests books that are helpful.

  • wtf071986 Sep 27, 2010

    Actually ******one (your name gets you Flagged on here amazing), many times in a clinical trial the patient does not have to pay. They are looking for volunteers and will often times pay the volunteers. Maybe you should do your research before you comment on something that you cleary know nothing about. (I work for a company which does this) :-)

  • southern wisdom Sep 27, 2010

    If the blacks were a high percentage the headline would read "Blacks abused as guinea pigs for drug trials".

  • Snookyone Sep 27, 2010

    Maybe it's because the patient has to pay to participate and many insurance companies won't pay for treatment through trials.