Photo: Latinos in Clinical Trials
Professionals connected with the research and development of new pharmaceutical products are emphasizing the need for Hispanics to participate more in medical studies as a tool for learning about the effects of certain drugs on that community.
The low participation in drug trials of Latinos, who - although they make up almost 16 percent of the population - comprise only 3 percent of the total number of people who take part in them, is a negative factor affecting the long-term health of the entire country.
The situation is explained by factors such as a lack of confidence, disinformation and a scarcity of Latino physicians.
Gabriela Martinez is a 46-year-old Mexican who contracted the HIV virus that causes AIDS more than 20 years ago, along with her now-deceased husband and one of her children.
“After overcoming many obstacles I began to participate in clinical studies with a project known as PAC, a program to recruit HIV-positive people that changed (my life) and educated me, because I understood that I not only had to fight HIV but (also) to begin to get to know my body,” she told Efe.
The participants in these tests are generally white and middle-class.
According to Sara Tylosky, president of Farma Consulting International, who investigates health issues in the Hispanic population, if researchers don’t examine how a medication works in a certain sector of the population they will not be able to know its effects when it goes on the market.
She said part of the problem lies in the lack of Latino doctors who work in the pharmaceutical industry.
“Less than 1 percent of the doctors who do the tests are Hispanic,” Tyloski said.
Mark Gonzalez, the director of patient recruitment for Anaheim Clinical Trials in Southern California, says that these studies are valuable because they show that medications are metabolized differently in different races and ethnic groups.