One Dedicated Chicago Doctor's Perspective On Minority Participation in Clinical Trials

One Dedicated Chicago Doctor's Perspective On Minority Participation in Clinical Trials

03.15.12 | By

Dr. Patricia Robinson, an African American oncologist in Chicago, certainly captured the attention of reporters at a recent roundtable on clinical trials of new medicines attended by journalists from Chicago-area Latino American, African American and Asian American community newspapers.

An assistant professor of medicine at Loyola University, director of the university's Cancer Survivorship Clinic and a board member of the Metropolitan Chicago Breast Cancer Task Force, Dr. Robinson said too often African American patients and other minorities deprive themselves of quality medical care by not participating in new drug clinical tests.

She attributed the lack of participation, in part, to lack of information about trials, distrust of medical researchers and the perception "of being looked upon as guinea pigs" and stressed that African Americans make up only three percent of all clinical trial participants. When African Americans are combined with Asian Pacific Islanders, Latinos and Native Americans, studies show they constitute only 10 percent of the volunteers in U.S. tests of new medicines.

Dr. Robinson said this reticence to volunteer for trials comes at a time when progress in the fight against diseases like breast cancer is, in part, the result of patient participation in clinical tests of new drugs. And she wishes more minority patients heeded that message. She routinely lets her cancer patients know about clinical trials available to them with the admonition, "Clinical trials have a window of opportunity. You may not get this opportunity later on. So let's think about participating sooner rather than later."

She said today's clinical trials are well-written, well-designed and ethical in an apparent reference to the fact they are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration and must be approved and reviewed by Institutional Review Boards, independent committees of physicians, community advocates and others.

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