A third of cancer drug clinical trials don’t report on race. Here’s why that matters

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One-third of the clinical trials that led to new cancer drugs approved between 2008 and 2018 didn’t report on the race of trial participants.

That’s according to a new study, published in JAMA Oncology, that looked at 230 clinical trials that supported oncology drugs approved by the Food and Drug Administration. Of those studies, just 145 reported on at least one race of trial participants. Just 18 broke the data down by the four major racial groups — white, Asian, black, and Hispanic — in the U.S. The study’s authors say their findings highlight the clear need for better reporting and representation.

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Black and Hispanic patients, in particular, were underrepresented in trials that led to cancer drug approvals. There were far fewer black and Hispanic patients in cancer clinical trials than would be expected, given the share of cancer patients who are black or Hispanic. Raghav and his colleagues say that’s problematic, particularly for trials that play a pivotal role in patient care.

“When you come across clinical trials that establish FDA approval or standard of care [for a new drug], they should definitely be representative of the population it’s used to treat,” [oncologist Kanwal] Raghav said.

Read full, original postMany clinical trials for new cancer drugs didn’t include any data on race

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