Diversity by design: the importance of DE&I in oncology trials

“First, do no harm”; is an ethical axiom at the heart of medical research; physicians worldwide pledge to uphold the oath to serve patients. Clinical trials offer a practical example of how this value can be realised in drug development, reinforcing the importance of understanding and evaluating the safety and efficacy of new therapies in a controlled environment (clinical trials) before they reach patients at large.

However, within this clinical trial landscape there remains a significant ethical and scientific gap. For many years, clinical trials in oncology have almost exclusively catered to specific demographics when selecting trial subjects – namely White participants – a stark contrast to the reality of the diverse racial and ethnic populations that make up society – and, often, actual epidemiology and disease burden.

Under-representation of diverse populations in cancer clinical trials is a well-documented and unnecessary barrier to understanding the true safety and efficacy of novel treatments across population subgroups. Amid a growing body of evidence to support the need for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DE&I) in oncology, there is a groundswell of final acknowledgement, awareness and, action that diversity is not an optional luxury in clinical research. It is an imperative.

“By not allowing everybody to have equal access, independent of who you are, where you live, what you look like, or what your ethnic background is, we’re exacerbating the still significant lack of health equity in our medical systems,” explains Nick Kenny, chief scientific officer at Syneos Health.

• Read the full article in pharmaphorum’s Deep Dive digital magazine