Engel Introduces Resolution Calling for Greater Racial Diversity in Clinical Trials

Engel Introduces Resolution Calling for Greater Racial Diversity in Clinical Trials

Congressman Eliot L. Engel (NY-16), a top Member of the Energy & Commerce Committee’s health panel, introduced a resolution today, supported by 19 Members of Congress, calling on federal agencies to take action to promote racial and ethnic diversity in clinical trials for COVID-19 treatments, vaccines, and diagnostics.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately impacted communities of color. In New York City, the coronavirus has killed Black and Latino Americans at twice the rate of White Americans,” said Congressman Engel. “Despite this, communities of color are often underrepresented in clinical trials for COVID-19 therapeutics, which can limit the medical community’s understanding of how a clinical intervention might affect different patient populations. We need to change that. Better representation in clinical trials will help improve health outcomes across the board. We need to rethink many of the ways our health system operates if we’re going to improve care in this country.”

Congressman Engel’s resolution calls on federal agencies to address the financial and social barriers that can prevent communities of color from participating in these trials. It also calls on federal agencies to partner with community groups, faith-based organization, and health care facilities to conduct outreach and take steps to improve access to a COVID-19 vaccine, once it is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

“With this Resolution, Congressman Engel is underscoring the importance of ensuring racial and ethnic diversity in clinical trial participants, an imperative heightened by dramatic racial and ethnic disparities in COVID-19 infection rates and outcomes. Trust in COVID-19 interventions, particularly those developed so rapidly, must be earned. Representative clinical trials are a critical variable in the trust equation and a rightful standard for clinical research writ large,” said Mary Woolley, President and CEO, Research!America

“COVID-19 has illuminated the social, economic, and health inequities in the United States which have resulted in a devastating disproportionate impact on communities of color,” said Karen Fisher, chief public policy officer of the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC). “The AAMC is pleased to endorse this resolution that encourages federal agencies to take meaningful steps to engage minority communities in research and clinical trials, to address barriers that may prevent diverse participation in COVID-19 clinical trials, and to ensure equitable access to treatments and vaccines.”

“The longstanding disparities in health care among communities of color are being made devastatingly apparent during this pandemic. Communities of color are suffering at a disproportionate rate, attributed in part to long-standing inadequacies in their access to health care and resources to treat chronic conditions, like cancer,” said Lisa Lacasse, president of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN). “These disparities extend to clinical trials where communities of color often face undue barriers to accessing the latest treatments. We need advancements in cancer prevention, detection and treatment to be available to everyone, regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation or their socioeconomic status, and welcome all efforts to address this issue.”

Congressman Engel’s resolution has been endorsed by the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, Families USA, Association of American Medical Colleges, and Research!America.