Dr Manmeet Ahluwalia: Significant Disparities Persist in Clinical Trial Enrollment for Minority Populations

Manmeet Ahluwalia, MD, MBA, Miami Cancer Institute, discussed efforts being taken by his organization’s Center for Equity in Cancer Care & Research to address disparities in clinical trial enrollment of minority patients in the United States.

The Center for Equity in Cancer Care & Research aims to bridge the significant gap in enrollment of minority patients within clinical trials that lead to FDA approval of oncology drugs, said Manmeet Ahluwalia, MD, MBA, chief, Solid Tumor Medical Oncology, deputy director, and chief scientific officer at Miami Cancer Institute.


Can you speak on the community-level health inequities among the populations you serve with Miami Cancer Institute and how these factors have influenced strategies at the new Center for Equity in Cancer Care & Research?

Despite all the advances in cancer care [in the] United States, there is a significant disparity in care of patients who are minority in origin. For example, if you look at clinical trials that lead to FDA approval of drugs in oncology, only 3% to 4% of those patients are African American in origin and only 3% to 4% of those patients are in Hispanic origin. Whereas you look at the United States population, 20% of the United States population is Hispanic origin, and 13% to 14% is African American.

So, when you add these 2, African Americans and Hispanics, although they constitute one-third of the US population, only 5% to 6% of these patients are enrolled in clinical trials. So, a major emphasis of our program is to bolster the minority enrollment in clinical trials. And as a primarily Hispanic-serving institution, we have a major focus in building the trust, and we are doing that through our partners in the community.

We have launched several initiatives where we are taking advantage of community health care workers, and we are working closely with Health Council of South Florida to partner to increase the minority enrollment to clinical trials and bridge this gap of minorities in trials that lead to FDA approval of drugs, which is a major emphasis for the White House, the National Institutes of Health, National Cancer Institute, and the FDA. Miami Cancer Institute is bolstering this initiative with our efforts in South Florida. And to this, we've been lucky to [receive] a generous donation from one of our philanthropic partners who have given us $2 million to organize and operationalize the center, which will be key to driving these efforts locally and then partnering with people nationally.

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