Racial Disparities Hinted in Ophthalmology Drug Trials
A study recently published by JAMA Ophthalmology seeked to determine the ethnic distribution in ophthalmology clinical drug trials. Led by the Vanderbilt’s School of Medicine, Medical Center, and Eye Institute, the report concentrated on three diseases: neovascular age-related macular degeneration (AMD), diabetic retinopathy (DR), and open-angle glaucoma (OAG). 31 clinical trials were examined, testing 13 drugs, with a total of 18,410 participants.
The resulting numbers, according to the American Journal of Managed Care, were generated using an incidence ratio. A technique often used in case studies, it represents the number of patients that belong to a certain race from the pool of participants, divided by the proportion of patients that belong to that particular race and have a positive diagnosis of that specific condition. The study concluded that within the past two decades, a disparity has been seen in the representation of Black and Hispanic individuals in such clinical trials.
Having proper representation in clinical trials has been a topic of discussion in the scientific community for several years. Many variables come into play when gathering participants, such as the availability, economic status, and health literacy of individuals from said minority groups. When looking at the impact of having certain groups of ethnicities that participate in clinical trials, researchers have been evaluating whether this disparity comes from a legitimate, uneven distribution, or simply the lack of offers for patients from minority groups to take part in trials. In this context, JAMA Ophthalmology mentions that in their results, participants who identified as Hispanic went unreported in several studies, either due to issues in identification or counting conflicts.
According to the study, the racial gap is expected to widen even more, until the year 2050, as more White participants are seen in the trials. In fact, this “racial gap” has been observed in several other medical disciplines, including dermatology, cardio thoracic surgery, oncology, and more. Ultimately, regardless of said issues, these evaluations should be considered and experimented with, as leaving this question unanswered does not allow researchers to fully differentiate the factors that affect this ethnicity pattern.