HealthDay News — African-Americans are underrepresented in clinical trials leading to approval of cancer medications, according to a research letter published online June 23 in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

Samer Al Hadidi, MD, from the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, and colleagues assessed enrollment of African-American persons in trials supporting 75 new oncologic drug approvals from 2014 to 2018.

The researchers found that during the study period, 7.44% of 61,763 patients enrolled in clinical trials that resulted in subsequent US Food and Drug Administration approval for cancer drugs were African-American. The participation-to-prevalence ratio (PPR) for participation of African-Americans in clinical trials that led to drug approval for all types of cancer combined was 0.31. Across major cancer subtypes, underrepresentation of African-Americans was consistent, including for breast cancer (PPR, 0.29), prostate cancer (PPR, 0.18), lung cancer (PPR, 0.15), and hematologic cancer (PPR, 0.12).

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“We believe that this discrepancy results in failed opportunities to understand cancer biology and the pharmacology of cancer medications,” the authors write.

One author disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry.

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