Why diversity in health research is good science and good business

By Praduman Jain, Forbes

Recruiting and retaining participants for clinical research — let alone those that represent diverse populations — has historically been a major challenge that negatively impacts all of us. Just the cost of losing and replacing participants in research trials can rack up thousands to millions of dollars per trial. In 2019, the average participant dropout rate for late-stage research trials was around 19.1% globally according to recent research results, up from 15.3% in 2012.

But the cost of enrolling and maintaining diverse research participants in medical research cuts deeper than wasted funds and often disproportionally excludes the most vulnerable, unrepresented members of our society. In 2014, some 86% of participants in clinical trials listed with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration were white. The results of a 2021 study show that white individuals accounted for 77.9% of participants in vaccine clinical trials run in the U.S. between 2011 and 2020.

Lack of diversity in clinical trials can lead to the development of drugs that only work for some people — or may even harm whole segments of the population. It also creates research conditions that ignore diverse genetic, environmental, cultural and lifestyle factors that play a key role in the development and treatment of medical conditions. For medical research to work properly, everyone must be represented. Read more …