Minority health matters

Some populations face challenges in benefiting from such innovation given inequities. Poor access to care and low medication adherence contribute.

Courtney Christian
Courtney ChristianApril 15, 2019

Minority health matters.

April is National Minority Health Month, a time to recognize and raise awareness of health disparities that affect racial and ethnic minorities.

The biopharmaceutical industry believes innovation is for everyone. However, some populations may face heightened challenges in benefiting from such innovation given systematic and longstanding issues largely driven by community-based inequities. Poor access to care and low medication adherence contribute to these disparities. For example, according to the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health:

  • Minorities have higher rates of chronic disease, including asthma, diabetes and heart attacks;
  • African American and Hispanic patients with cardiovascular disease are 10-40% less likely than white patients to receive secondary prevention therapies;
  • Nonwhite patients are 53% more likely than white patients to be non-adherent to their treatment regimes.

Sickle cell disease (SCD) is another example of a condition that disproportionately affects racial minorities, with 1 in 13 African Americans born with the sickle cell trait. SCD is life-threatening, due to potential complications from blocked blood vessels, which can include stroke, difficulty breathing, pulmonary hypertension and other organ damage.

The biopharmaceutical industry is working to alleviate some of the costs associated with SCD and improve the quality of life for patients of all races and ethnicities living with the disease. According to a new report, 17 new treatments are in development for the disease, all of which are in clinical trials or awaiting U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) review. These innovative treatments are exploring new ways to use established medicines and cutting-edge technologies such as RNA interference, gene-edited stem cell therapy and gene therapy. 

By leveraging the power of the entire health care system and listening to each patient’s unique needs, we can work together to put patient care first and elevate prevention, innovative treatments and cures for all.

The FDA’s Office of Minority Health provides further information resources here.

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