The Star’s story about increasing participation in clinical drug trials raised important points (7/15, Business, “Programs want more drug trials”). However, it failed to cover one critical aspect of drug discovery: Not all medications work the same for all patients.
That is why companies like AstraZeneca are committed to the inclusion of ethnically diverse patients in the development of innovative medications that are effective in as many patient groups as possible. African-Americans and Hispanics are woefully underrepresented in clinical trials despite their high incidence of diseases such as diabetes, asthma, heart disease and prostate cancer.
Histories of bias in clinical studies such as the Tuskeegee Experiment are reminders of the importance of patient protection and informed consent. Federal guidelines and codes, as well as a panel of professionals and community members are responsible for monitoring study safety and safeguarding volunteer rights in every clinical research project.
Whether it is getting treatment for an illness when no other treatment exists, receiving expert care for your condition, having early access to new treatments or knowing your participation is helping others, ask your doctor about clinical trials and whether enrollment is a good idea for you.
Paul G. Alexander, M.D.
Executive director, clinical relations, AstraZeneca