Minorities Are Underrepresented in Clinical Trials of Pharmaceutical Agents for Cystic Fibrosis

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Members of racial or ethnic minorities make up an appreciable proportion of patients with cystic fibrosis (CF) and have worse outcomes than non-Latino white individuals. Between 1,999 and 2014, the CF Foundation Patient Registry reported an increase in minorities from 5 to 8.2% for Latinos, from 3 to 4.6% for black individuals and from 1.4 to 3.1% for “Other.”


To evaluate the representation of racial and ethnic minorities in pharmacology clinical trials for CF.


We analyzed pharmacology clinical trials in CF published between 1999 and 2015 by searching PubMed and published study reference lists for qualifying study reports. We examined whether the race and ethnicity of study subjects were reported and, if so, what percentage of subjects represented major minority groups.

Measurements and Main Results:

Among 147 pharmacology clinical trials, only 19.7% reported the race or ethnicity of study subjects. Latinos were verified as included in 7.5% of clinical trials, black individuals in 6.8%, and Asians in 2.0%. Inclusion of subjects described as “Other race” was reported in 7.5% of trials. In 29 clinical trials that reported race and ethnicity, the percentage of minorities included as subjects was 2.0% for Latinos, 1.0% for black individuals, and 0.1% for Asians.


Although CF disproportionately affects non-Latino white individuals, members of other racial or ethnic groups are proportionally underrepresented in CF pharmacology clinical trials. Inadequate inclusion of minorities and failure to report the racial or ethnic background of study subjects limits information about factors influencing drug response and may contribute to health disparities for minorities with CF.

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