The lack of diversity among participants in clinical trials has been a lingering issue for the pharma industry, which has prompted the American Lung Association (ALA) to act.

The healthcare organization recently announced an expansion of its Awareness, Trust and Action program to boost awareness of clinical trials among Black Americans and encourage them to have conversations with their doctors about participating. 

The program, which was launched last year, is broadening its scope to address misconceptions and mistrust among Black patients around clinical trials and their value as a potential treatment option for lung cancer.

Spurred on by the fact that Black patients with lung cancer are less likely to be diagnosed at an early stage, receive surgical treatment or receive any treatment compared to their White counterparts, the ALA is seeking to empower proactivity when it comes to care.

Underrepresentation has been a systemic issue for healthcare companies for years, put into further focus during the COVID-19 pandemic, which shone a spotlight on racial health disparities nationwide.

The Association of American Medical Colleges estimates that Black patients only account for 5% of clinical trial participants, while the vast majority are White.

“We are facing an issue in cancer care in this country. Black Americans are underrepresented in clinical research, so I am working with the American Lung Association to fix that,” said Danielle Mitchell, CEO of Black Women in Clinical Research, in a statement. “I started my career as a clinical research coordinator because my grandmother had cancer. I saw the lack of diversity in clinical trials, and I have set out to change that because representation matters.”

The ALA is embarking on this initiative with the backing of several notable pharma companies: Daiichi Sankyo, Genentech, Novartis, as well as Novocure. 

Merck is also supporting the effort months after launching the Focus on Your Lungs campaign, which encouraged people at high risk for lung cancer to get screened annually. The company worked with Real Chemistry, a 2022 MM+M Agency 100 honoree, on the campaign.

The expanded Awareness, Trust and Action program also comes about a year after the ALA launched A Hope Story animated ads as part of the Saved by the Scan campaign.

For a January 2024 article on a campaign to diversify clinical trials, click here.