Black participants make up just 3% in cancer clinical trials, says GlobalData

A new report indicates that black participants were severely underrepresented in global oncology clinical trial population, accounting for just three percent of patients from 2013-2022.

clinical trials diveristy

Diversity within the pharmaceutical sector and clinical trials continues to be a problem, according to a recent report by data and analytics company GlobalData.

The report, Clinical Trials – The Importance of Diversity in Clinical Trials, examined data from clinical trials initiated between 1 January 2013 and 16 June 2022. Disclosed racial representation data was analysed by location, year, trial phase, therapy area, among other factors.

White participants accounted for almost 60 percent of those involved in oncology clinical trials over the almost-ten-year period, with Asian participants accounting for 31 percent, and the black population three percent. Native Hawaiian, Pacific Islanders or Indigenous Australians accounted for 5.4 percent of participants in oncology trials, according to the report. 

“Improving Black enrolment in oncology studies is vital so that biological responses to therapies can be fully understood and the most appropriate treatments can be administered,” commented Mohamed Abukar, Senior Analyst on the Database Team at GlobalData,

He added: “Further, a lack of diversity in clinical trial populations significantly diminishes the quality of data obtained for drug safety and efficacy profiles.”

Relative to other therapy areas, oncology has the greatest number of ‘expanded access’ and ‘companionate use’ programme trials using experimental therapeutics. It is, therefore, essential that diverse race groups can receive innovative therapies and that therapeutics that are in development are representative of the disease demographic to prevent excess mortality, GlobalData said.  

“A diverse clinical trial population allows us to identify discrepancies in responses across population subgroups, ultimately allowing for a better understanding and a more targeted approach in the administration of therapeutics to diverse populations in a real-world setting,” Abukar said. 

He called for strategies to improve diversity across the pharma industry, saying these must be considered where trial populations vastly differ from the disease demographics to ensure that all population subgroups are well represented in clinical research, especially within the field of oncology.

Initiatives are already underway. Earlier this year the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) published draft guidance to support companies in enrolling more ethnically diverse trial populations.