Every time you take a medicine – even if it’s just for a headache – you are benefitting from the results of a clinical trial. By the time a medicine reaches the pharmacy counter, it has withstood rigorous testing to ensure safety and efficacy.

The clinical trials process is lengthy and complex, relying heavily on volunteer participation, and without these volunteers, the development of new medicines would not be possible.

However, groups such as African Americans, Asian Americans and Hispanics are significantly underrepresented in clinical research.  According to the U.S. Food & Drug Administration, African Americans represent 12 percent of the U.S. population but only 5 percent of clinical trial participants and Hispanics make up 16 percent of the population but only 1 percent of clinical trial participants. It is important to identify barriers to enrollment of demographic subgroups in clinical trials and employ strategies to encourage greater participation.

Inclusion of individuals of varied races, ethnicities, ages, and sex/gender in clinical trials can help to improve the completeness and quality of demographic subgroup data reporting and analysis, and make demographic subgroup data more available and transparent for health care providers and patients. This is vital, given that certain demographic subgroups of patient populations can respond differently to therapies.

Biopharmaceutical companies, academia and other stakeholders have been working to increase diversity in clinical trials. In order to understand how a treatment affects a patient population, it is important to find volunteer participants from all backgrounds. To find out more about clinical trials, click here.