Did you know?
Research has been largely focused on how health conditions affect men. As a result, women are more likely to be misdiagnosed, even today*. For example, what are known as the classic symptoms for heart attacks, like pain in the chest and down the left arm, are only ‘classic’ for men. Women are more likely to experience breathlessness, fatigue, nausea and what feels like indigestion. We see the same thing in engineering. It’s shown that women are more likely to be severely injured or suffer fatal consequences when involved in car accidents because seatbelt technology is designed and tested on the male body.
Looking at ethnicity, rather than gender. As with so many aspects of this pandemic, the COVID-19 pandemic confirmed the ways in which our healthcare system isn’t built equitably as 80% of COVID-19 vaccine trial participants were white, while only 10.6% were Black and 11.6% were Hispanic/Latino.
How we increase equity and diversity in clinical trials
In 2020, BMS announced a series of global commitments over five years to accelerate and expand health equity and diversity and inclusion efforts. One of those commitments is to increase clinical trial diversity.
A lack of diversity in clinical trials is a barrier to ensuring that patient populations are accurately represented when developing new medicines. Hence, our objective is to improve the recruitment of diverse patients in our clinical trials, ensuring the trial population is more reflective of the real-world population we serve in each country and in alignment with the epidemiology of the disease we are studying.
To support this effort:
- We have increased the number of US sites in highly diverse areas to increase access to clinical trials, address issues related to trust, raise awareness, and educating both internally and externally and actively ensure patient representation in our clinical trial design processes.
- We are supporting grant writing efforts for STEM education and independent research, investing in diversity owned businesses, and increasing diverse representation in our executive roles.
- We also work with patient advocacy and community outreach organisations to ensure the patient voice is included in trial designs, so we understand and represent their needs.
- We will open clinical trials in communities that are traditionally under-served and under-represented.
- We are taking a customised, comprehensive approach by centring our strategy around the patient experience — from screening and early diagnosis, to access to quality care and innovative medicines.