Partnership seeks to drive diversity, inclusion in MS clinical trials

Developing healthcare solutions across populations could help reduce inequities

Andrea Lobo, PhD avatar

by Andrea Lobo, PhD |

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The Accelerated Cure Project for Multiple Sclerosis and the Arab Board for Clinical Research have partnered with the Association of Diversity in Clinical Trials (AOD) to drive diversity and inclusion in clinical trials, including in those of multiple sclerosis (MS).

The intent of the collaboration is to build knowledge and develop strategies to increase diversity, inclusivity, and equality in clinical research. Developing healthcare solutions across diverse populations could help reduce inequities in MS and other patient populations, proponents maintain.

“Our partnership with the Accelerated Cure Project for Multiple Sclerosis and the Arab Board for Clinical Research is a vital step in addressing clinical trial disparities,” Jeremy Mitchell, AOD’s director of business development, said in an AOD press release. “Together, we aim to improve healthcare outcomes for all by ensuring trials reflect our diverse communities.”

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Need for diversity in clinical trials

Clinical trials often fail to represent the racial and ethnic diversity of the populations that would benefit from the medications or medical devices being developed.

As a result, when those drugs and devices win regulatory approval, doctors may be reluctant to prescribe them to racial and ethnic minorities because there isn’t enough data to know if they’d work.

Although including diverse populations has garnered increased interest recently, more work is needed to ensure that all patient populations are represented in clinical trials, advocates say.

To address this, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) created the Office of Minority Health and Health Equity, which seeks to promote the health of diverse populations through research and science communication that’s focuses on health disparities.

“However, the FDA is not alone as a government agency advocating for health equity, but rather just one element of an integrated Health and Human Services (HHS) program,” AOD states on its website. AOD is also advocating for diversity and equity in clinical research. The new partnership aims to expand its impact on underrepresented populations.

“When we increase diversity in clinical trials, we facilitate access, so that all people will have a fair opportunity to be diagnosed, treated, and will have the potential to be their healthiest selves,” Jerome Adams, MD, chairman of the AOD’s board, said on the association webpage.

Accelerated Cure Project for Multiple Sclerosis is a nonprofit dedicated to advancing MS research to cure the disease and improve patients’ lives. It shares AOD’s pledge for equal access to innovative treatments and therapies for people with MS. The Arab Board for Clinical Research promotes clinical research excellence in the Arab community. It supplies resources and tools to help researchers and sponsors increase the representation of Arab Americans and Arabs in Africa and the Middle East in clinical trials.

An advantage of including Arabs in clinical research includes being able to generalize clinical trial results to diverse populations, increase patient engagement, and ensure equal healthcare access to all populations.