Improving Clinical Trial Diversity is Critical to Health Equity

Enhancing clinical trial diversity is a highly complex challenge that requires a community-based, multi-stakeholder approach.

Learn more about PhRMA’s efforts to address the systemic barriers that can deter underserved communities from participating in clinical trials, so that people who want to participate, can.

Equitable Breakthroughs in Medicine Development is a comprehensive effort to increase diversity in clinical trials and address systemic barriers to participation by communities of color. This effort seeks to help underrepresented patients be more involved in the research and development of potential life-saving medical treatments.

Funded by a grant from PhRMA, Equitable Breakthroughs in Medicine Development will work over the next 18-months to bring together diverse communities, patients, providers, health partners, community organizations and academic institutions, along with the support of the pharmaceutical industry, to pilot a network of sustainable, connected, community-based trial sites.

Community-based trial sites will:

  • Partner with trusted messengers and community leaders to raise education, awareness, and support for clinical trial participation.
  • Provide the resources and technical support for local sites to be successful, sustainable, and thrive.
  • Build training opportunities and mentorship for investigators and staff.
  • Changing the Paradigm to Enhance Clinical Trial Diversity

    Since June of 2020, PhRMA has convened thousands of stakeholders as we have worked to explore a new potential infrastructure with diverse communities, health systems and academia that seeks to show proof of concept for a network of connected, community-rooted trial sites.

    With strong support from the biopharmaceutical industry, this effort seeks to create a sustainable, community-based infrastructure focused on clinical trial diversity

    How We Got Here: A Timeline

    Clinical Trial Diversity

    October 2020: Industry-Wide Principles to Enhance Diversity in Clinical Trial Participation

    PhRMA recently announced first-ever, industry wide principles on clinical trial diversity.

    Critical to enhancing clinical trial diversity is addressing the systemic barriers that can deter underserved communities from participating in clinical trials, so that people who want to participate, can.

    Clinical Trial Diversity

    June 2021: Insights From Our Stakeholder Workshop

    In June 2021, 500+ health care and community members from over 150 organizations came together at PhRMA’s first stakeholder workshop focused on improving diversity in clinical trials.

    Take a look at the highlights from the in-depth conversations.

    Clinical Trial Diversity

    October 2021: Five Key Strategies for Enhancing Diversity in Clinical Trials

    A smiling family, with son sitting in mother's lap and father leaning over them

    A recent report outlines five critical strategies for enhancing diversity in clinical trials and is based on more than a year of research and feedback from more than 500 stakeholders across 150+ organizations.

    Five Key Strategies:

    • Create a network of clinical trial sites in underserved communities.
    • Develop a diverse pool of investigators and staff.
    • Establish long-term relationships and invest in the community.
    • Engage the community in conversations.
    • Provide sustainable support and standardized platforms.

    Community Based Partnership

    Summer 2022: Equitable Breakthroughs in Medicine Development

    Equitable Breakthroughs in Medicine Development, a first-of-its-kind, cross-collaborative, community-based effort, seeks to tackle systemic challenges to clinical trial participation and share our findings broadly to help drive change.

    This partnership is focused on supporting local sites and patients in underrepresented communities to enhance clinical trial diversity in a sustainable way.

    As we endeavor to push forward to change the future, we must first understand the past

    Colonization, slavery, segregation, systemic racism—these experiences continue to disproportionately impact underserved communities and have created a foundation of mistrust rooted in history

    Events like these lead to lasting mistrust and impact how communities of color approach health care. This mistrust, combined with social and economic barriers, is amplified when it comes to clinical trials. We are committed to working with communities to address this.

    Some of this history can be found here:

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    Here is a small sampling of formative events in U.S. history that have shaped the relationship communities of color have with medical research and the health care system. This list is by no means exhaustive, but we hope it helps pave the way for candid dialogue that guides our work on equity.

    Slavery (1619 - 1865)

    An illustration depicting a pair of manacles, commonly used to restrain enslaved people during slavery in the United States
    Illustration by Toya Beacham. Click here to learn more about the artist.

    Gynecological Experimentation On Enslaved Women (1845 - 1849)

    An illustration depicting a black woman, whose red headband and green dress are colorized amid an otherwise black and white illustration, kneeling on a raised platform, with the profile of a white man in the foreground barely visible on the side of the image
    Illustration by Toya Beacham. Click here to learn more about the artist.

    Closing Of Medical Schools and Exclusion Of Future Health Providers (1870)

    An illustration of a black man depicted from the shoulders down, wearing a three-piece suit, carrying a medical bag
    Illustration by Toya Beacham. Click here to learn more about the artist.

    Birth Control Experimentation in Puerto Rico (1930s - 1970s)

    An illustration depicting a black Puerto Rican woman holding a young child on her lap, with another child nearby.
    Illustration by Toya Beacham. Click here to learn more about the artist.

    The Tuskegee Syphilis Study (1932 - 1972)

    An illustration depicting a black man in common clothing of a farmer from 1930s America, centered in a group of other similarly dressed figures who are shown in outline only
    Illustration by Toya Beacham. Click here to learn more about the artist.

    Henrietta Lacks (1951)

    An illustration depicting Henrietta Lacks, wearing a suit, smiling, and with her hands on her hips
    Illustration by Toya Beacham. Click here to learn more about the artist.

    Radioactive iodine (1956 - 1957)

    An illustration of a steel barrel with a radioactive waste label, behind a medicine tablet resting on a steel tray
    Illustration by Toya Beacham. Click here to learn more about the artist.

    Resources