AstraZeneca Reviews Diversity in Vaccine Trials

AstraZeneca’s head of oncology said the company is conducting a major review of diversity across its trials to ensure all population groups benefit from its medicines.  

Dr. David Fredrickson said AstraZeneca is joining others in the pharmaceutical industry in working towards better representation of women, people of color, and Latinx people in clinical trials. 

According to Fredrickson, AstraZeneca has launched an initiative to catalog AstraZeneca’s past and present trials to reflect on patient diversity in response to concerns that lack of diversity among participants in clinical trials may result in inconsistent effects of drugs and medical equipment in certain groups. 

Fredrickson added that the pharmaceutical industry was “taking a hard look” at the eligibility criteria for clinical trials of new medicines.  

When asked if the company was also looking at the inclusion of transgender people in clinical trials, Fredrickson said he was “not aware of a specific effort,” but added that they “need to move to lots of different groups.”  

Fredrickson also admitted that the pregnant group is a “more challenging one to tackle” for the industry. “Pregnancy is a common and almost universal exclusion for clinical trials.”  

Last year, Sajid Javid, the UK health secretary, launched a review into systemic racism and bias in medical devices to examine why women and people of color have worse health outcomes. 

Criticisms of AstraZeneca’s earlier studies pointed at its clinical trials involving white participants despite the virus affecting all people of color and race. 

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