The Abbott Park, Illinois-based developer and manufacturer of medical devices and drugs said its initiative also includes forming the Diversity in Research Medical Advisory Board, funding improved access for women and under-represented communities in Abbott trials, and convening patient advocates, industry experts, trialists and physicians to develop and share ways to increase clinical trial diversity.
The FDA has encouraged more gender and ethnic/cultural diversity in clinical trials to improve the safety and efficacy of medical products for all who will use them, but factors like trust, site access and communication barriers often keep diverse patients out of trials.
“The importance for people considering being a participant in a clinical trial to have a doctor or nurse who looks like them, who speaks their language and who understands their needs and those of their community cannot be overstated,” Dr. Melvin Echols, a cardiologist and associate professor of medicine at the Morehouse School of Medicine and a member of Abbott’s new medical advisory board, said in a news release.
Morehouse is one of four HBCU medical schools partnering with Abbott on nearly 300 scholarships in the next five years, along with the Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science, the Howard University College of Medicine, Meharry Medical College, the National Black Nurses Association and the National Association of Hispanic Nurses.
“The best health care product is a product that helps the most people, providing the greatest benefit,” Abbott President and CEO Robert Ford said in the news release. “As an industry, we need to set new standards to make sure that our clinical trials remain representative of the people our products are designed to help.”
Medical Design & Outsourcing has highlighted the importance of diversity in the medtech industry, including opportunities for improvement in leadership, research and design and manufacturing.