Clinical Trials in South Carolina

More Than 3,200 Clinical Trials Conducted in South Carolina With a Growing Emphasis on Diversity

08.28.13 | By

At a time when there is growing concern about diversity in clinical trials, we learned yesterday that 26 percent of people who participate in treatment trials at the Medical University of South Carolina's Hollings Cancer Center (HCC) are African American.

Dr. Marvella E. Ford, HCC's associate director, cancer disparities, attributes that success to the center's comprehensive clinical trials education program at 17 facilities in 11 South Carolina counties.

We can break down the barriers that hinder proper diversity in clinical trials with a strong dose of education.

That encouraging piece of news was shared yesterday morning at a news conference at which a new report "Research in Your Backyard:  Pharmaceutical Clinical Trials in South Carolina" was released.  Other speakers included Congressman James E. Clyburn, a staunch champion of eliminating disparities in health care, and PhRMA Executive Vice President Chip Davis who offered their perspectives on the importance of clinical trials to the state economy and the health of South Carolinians.

Davis also discussed a new PhRMA partnership with the National Minority Quality Forum and Microsoft to improve clinical trial diversity.  A key feature of that collaboration is creation of a National Clinical Trial Network, a portal to bring together patients, physicians and researchers to increase clinical trial participation.

The new report shows biopharmaceutical companies, working in collaboration with local research institutions such as MUSC, have conducted more than 3,200 clinical trials of new medicines in South Carolina since 1999.

More than half of the trials have targeted the most debilitating chronic disease -- diabetes, cancer, heart disease, stroke, asthma and mental illnesses -- which are major health care cost drivers of the Palmetto State  and the nation.

Nearly 300 of the chronic disease medicine clinical trials are active and still recruiting patients.  And Congressman Clyburn and Dr. Ford stressed the importance of more African Americans, Latinos and other patient populations learning about these clinical trials and considering participation.  

Congressman Clyburn, one of the highest ranking African Americans in Congress, said it is vitally important "to get people of color to get beyond and over their reluctance to be involved in trials. Clinical trials help to promote a strong health care system."

Dr. Ford said we must work together to overcome minority patient "lack of awareness and fear" of clinical trials.  She called for more collaboration between institutions like HCC and biopharmaceutical companies to educate patients.

As we recognize the collaborative work underway in South Carolina, I'd welcome your thoughts on the importance of clinical trials in your neck of the woods.



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