Identifying and addressing health disparities: PhRMA's first chart pack on health equity

PhRMA believes that diversity, equity, and inclusion are essential to the discovery of new medicines and that people of all ethnic and racial backgrounds should have equitable access to treatment.

Kristin WilliamsOctober 27, 2022

Identifying and addressing health disparities: PhRMA's first chart pack on health equity.

PhRMA is proud to announce the release of its first ever chart pack on health equity. This chart pack contains information on health equity in three sections: (1) A Snapshot of Health Disparities in America, (2) Inequities in Access to Screenings and Medicines Allow Health Disparities to Persist, and (3) PhRMA’s Commitment to Building a More Equitable Health Care System for All. As a public health professional, health equity is a cornerstone of the work I do as it impacts every aspect of our nation’s health care system. Unfortunately, some populations face unequitable access to care due to their background, where they live, or how much money they make, among other factors. It is crucial that we make an effort to understand and discuss these inequities while working to build a more just, equitable health care system for all patients.

Health equity means that all patients have the opportunity to reach their highest health potential – and accessing health services supports and medicines is an important part of the equation. PhRMA is committed to partnering with entities across the health care spectrum to help ensure that every patient, whether living in the most urban area or the most remote, rural city has equal access to quality health care, treatment, and cures.

Medicines, in particular, help populations optimize health and well-being, and manage and treat chronic disease, cancers, and other conditions1,2. However, social and structural inequities stemming from social determinants of health rooted in systemic racism and discrimination impede equitable access to care and medicines for disadvantaged and socioeconomically deprived communities, leading to disparate health outcomes.

Research has consistently documented the disparities in health outcomes and health care access across diverse populations:

  • Compared to non-Hispanic whites, Hispanic men and women are twice as likely to be diagnosed with and die from liver cancer and stomach cancer.3
  • The maternal mortality rate for Black women is 3x higher than that of white women.4
  • Asian American and Pacific Islander women are 2.5x more likely to die from stomach cancer compared to white women.5
  • American Indians and Alaska Natives have the highest rate of uninsurance of compared to other racial and ethnic minorities.6
  • Patients with disabilities face a myriad of barriers to access care, such as physical barriers to entering health care facilities and lack of accessible equipment.7
  • 16% of LGBTQ+ Americans feel discriminated against when seeking health care.8

Health disparities not only have an adverse impact on these communities, but the overall health and economy of the U.S. as well. Research has shown that the excess cost of racial disparities in the U.S. results in $93 billion lost in direct medical care costs and $42 billion in lost productivity costs per year.9

This chart pack was designed to emphasize the patient perspective and experience in the healthcare system. It is important to recognize that a patient’s ability to access needed medicines and treatment isn’t as simple as just receiving a prescription from a physician. There are structural barriers within the health care system that can hinder a patient’s access, in addition to the systemic and social factors faced before even reaching a doctor’s office. Advancing health equity depends upon dismantling these barriers to medication access across the patient’s continuum of care as they move through their journey to attain better health outcomes and access more equitable care. Learn more by downloading the chart pack.

PhRMA believes that diversity, equity, and inclusion are essential to the discovery of new medicines and that people of all ethnic and racial backgrounds should have equitable access to treatment.10 Our organization is committed to building a more equitable health care system through creating systemic, long-lasting change to improve health equity across underserved communities. Learn more about PhRMA’s health equity work and resources and our Equity Initiative by following our progress at


1 Rodis JL, Sevin A, Awad MH, et al. Improving Chronic Disease Outcomes Through Medication Therapy Management in Federally Qualified Health Centers. J Prim Care Community Health. 2017;8(4):324-331. doi:10.1177/2150131917701797

2 MacEwan JP, Dennen S, Kee R, et al. Changes in mortality associated with cancer drug approvals in the United States from 2000 to 2016. J Medical Economics. 2020;23(12):1558-1569. doi: 10.1080/13696998.2020.1834403

3 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Office of Minority Health. Cancer and Hispanic Americans. Available at: Accessed November 3, 2021.

4 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Pregnancy Mortality Surveillance System. Pregnancy-Related Mortality Ratio by Race/Ethnicity 2014 – 2017. Accessed: April 2022.

5 Cancer and Asian Americans. Office of Minority Health. Accessed: June 2022.


7 Lagu T, Griffin C, Lindenauer PK. Ensuring access to health care for patients with disabilities. JAMA Intern Med. 2015;175(2):157-158. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2014.6740

8 Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Discrimination in America: Final Summary. 2018. Available at:

9 W.K. Kellogg Foundation & Altarum. The Business Case for Racial Equity: A Strategy for Growth. 2018. Available at:

10 PhRMA, “Building a Better Health Care System: PhRMA's Patient-Centered Agenda”


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