Friday, May 24, 2024

Advocates call for more Latinos in Clinical Trials

While Latinos represent close to 18 percent of the population in the United States, fewer than five percent participate in clinical trials, and for advocates who push for greater participation of Latinos, this is a problem, and being left out could have a significant negative impact.

“There are diseases that you have [out there], and this new drug comes out or this new therapy comes out and you want to know that at least people like you were in the study. It doesn’t mean we’re always going to find differences by race and ethnicity, but when we do, it’s really important” said Dr. Eliseo Pérez-Stable of the National Institutes of Minority Health and Health Disparities at the National Institutes of Health in Washington, D.C.

Pérez-Stable said that having this data could be key for preventative care. “When we know for example that a certain kind of cancer is 30 percent more one in one group or another, or diabetes is twice as among Latinos compared to non-Latino whites, then we say what’s going on, there’s something different in the way the body responds…if all we studies were whites, we would never know about these things,” he told Latino USA.

Pérez-Stable spoke at a recent Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute (CHCI) forum in the nation’s capital that focused on several key issues in the health industry, including the dearth of Latinos in medical studies and trials, and possible ways to break that cycle of non-participation. “Some drugs may work wonderfully in clinical trials but don’t work for a small group of people, and we don’t know that unless we study it. These are the kinds of questions where race, ethnicity become an important part of the question on how science, how biology is working,” he said.

For Latinas in particular, participation is a way not only to help themselves but others as well. “Every Latina is part of some sort of familia, so participating in clinical trials is supporting the health and well-being of all our families,” says Miryam Granthon-Gerdine of the Latinas Research Network. “It’s an opportunity to practice self-care and advance scientific cultural sensitivities of our unique nutrition, behaviors, adherence to medications and so many others. And for those of us who are moms, aunties, etc. to be role models to the next generation.”