New research published today in the American Association for Cancer Research journal Blood Cancer Discovery proposes an approach aimed to address racial discrepancies in clinical trials for multiple myeloma. Multiple myeloma is a blood cancer that reports a death rate twice as high in African Americans as compared to white Americans. The recommendations outlined in the paper from Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, the FDA, and AACR, intend to improve the representation of African American patients in clinical trials.
Although African Americans are more than twice as likely as white Americans to be diagnosed with multiple myeloma and to die from it, enrollment of African Americans in clinical trials has decreased by 3.5% in the last decade. African Americans account for 20% of people diagnosed with myeloma but made up only 4.5% of patients in new drug and biological license applications for myeloma from 2003-2017.
"There hasn't been as much progress in African Americans as there has been in other groups," says Kenneth C. Anderson, MD, the corresponding author of the study from Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. "The number of African Americans enrolled in clinical trials of novel agents or treatments of multiple myeloma has been tragically low. When they have enrolled, their outcome to treatment with novel therapies has been the same or even better than other patients," he commented.
The recommendations that the paper puts forth include the following, as reported by Dana Farber:
The recommendations were developed at a workshop that took place last year and involved patients and patient advocates. "Our patients are truly the inspiration and heroes of this collaborative effort to eliminate the glaring issue of racial disparities in clinical trials," says Anderson. "If we can make clinical trials more inclusive and representative of real-world patients, we may not only enhance participation of African American patients, but also provide a paradigm for new drug development more broadly."