Roundtable Underlines Diversity Gap in Dermatology, Medical Research

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Contact Author Rachel Grabenhofer

A recent report published in Practical Dermatology details a virtual roundtable discussion, supported by L’Oréal brands CeraVe, La Roche-Posay and Skinceut­icals, including dermatol­ogists and industry executives.

The discussion emphasized the lack of diversity in professional represen­tation and clinical trials, the effects of this gap in patient care and treatment outcomes, and opportunities to change this dynamic. For example, dermatologist Jeanine Downie, M.​D., noted that only 3% of dermatol­ogists across the U.​S. are African-American. Corey Hartman, M.​D., emphasized the crucial need to include skin types of all ethnic backgrounds in clinical trials testing product efficacy and safety, to understand how the products interact with different populations.

Hartman added there is a history in the medical field of taking advantage of African-Americans, which makes it less likely they will volunteer for clinical trials in the first place, creating a self-fulfilling prophecy. This means it will take a concerted effort for the clinicians to recruit subjects of color to participate in trials; especially Black doctors.

Another point raised by Harman is that it makes common sense for companies to ensure inclusion on both participant and physician levels since, once a trial concludes, if not enough people of color were included, the U.​S. Food and Drug Administ­ration will not approve the drug or device. Seemal R. Desai, M.​D., agreed, highlighting the practical aspect of drug policy and research funding. From an advocacy standpoint, however, Desai highlighted the need to have outcomes data and statistics data objectively showing the diversity problem; but the only way to support that data is to get more patients of color into trials.

The roundtable agreed that in order to achieve better diversity in clinical trial subjects, a first step could be to ensure diversity among clinical trial investig­ators. Furthermore, to make meaningful change, they added, requires outreach to students in medical schools to recruit them into dermatology residencies, because the number of minority dermatol­ogists in the U.​S. is very low.