Sanofi and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals recently published the results of the clinical trial for Dupixent, or Dupilumab, a treatment for children between ages 6 and 11 with moderate to severe uncontrolled asthma.
Findings revealed significantly reduced asthma attacks.
Of the 408 children in the study, an average 65% of severe asthma attacks decreased over one year versus a placebo, STAT reported. After a six month period, more children who were given Dupixent reported improved asthma control than in the placebo group.
Nearly 25 million Americans are living with asthma. While Black Americans sit at 11%, second to Hispanic/Latino Americans at 15%, Black American fatality rates are high.
Though asthma-related fatalities are down overall, a 2019 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health report, reveals Non-Hispanic Black Americans were almost three times more likely to die from asthma.
The OMH report also reveals similarly stark stats for Black American children. Black American children are eight times more likely to die from asthma-related complications.
Black American children, who would benefit the most from the medication, are virtually absent in the research. Nearly 90% of those enrolled in the study were white.
Homogenous clinical trials like the aforementioned study are not uncommon.
Social and structural inequalities largely drive medical disparities for Black Americans.
The disconnect is clear. Medical racism in America looms over the Black community today.
Only 5% of Black people make up clinical trial participants despite being 13.4% of the country’s population. And while Hispanic/Latino people make up about 18.1% of the population, only 1% participate in clinical trials, according to Clinical Research Pathways, which promotes diversity in clinical research.
With the success of the clinical trial, the Food and Drug Administration confidently endorses the drug, expanding sales.
However, STAT also reported, Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology found that drugs such as Dupixent may not be suitable for children 12 years and older depending upon their racial or ethnic group. More research to provide equitable treatment for children of color with asthma was insisted.
While Sanofi, and other pharmaceutical companies that lack diversity in their clinical trials, can, and do, argue that the participants in the study relatively match the population reflected in the trial.
However, Sanofi and other pharmaceutical companies, also claim to be “committed to increasing diversity in clinical trials” to better treatment for all patients.
Medical equity will not exist until diversity is prioritized in clinical trials.