There are many ways to improve the lives of people with disabilities. Biopharmaceutical company Bristol Myers Squibb has put its money where its mouth is and launched the Disability Diversity in Clinical Trials (DDiCT) initiative.
The initiative aims to provide recommendations on effectively improving access, engagement, speed of enrolment and participation of people with disabilities in clinical trials.
Conducted in collaboration with Disability Solutions, a U.S. non-profit organisation that helps companies around the world achieve true inclusion of people with disabilities, the DDiCT initiative ensures that all patient groups are representative of the real population and match the epidemiology of the disease being studied.
This initiative makes sense when current clinical trial practices exclude up to a quarter of the U.S. population due to disability. In 338 phase III and IV studies, 12.4% of people with intellectual or developmental disabilities and 1.8% of people with physical disabilities were not included because of explicit exclusion criteria. These are the results of a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
The study also found that other barriers to disability diversity in clinical trials include inaccessible trial sites, medical facilities and gender bias that prevent this community from receiving life-saving treatments.
Addressing these issues is part of Bristol Myers Squibb’s broader health equity inclusion and diversity commitments to address health disparities, clinical trial diversity, provider diversity, employee giving and workforce representation between 2020 and 2025. The project initiated by Bristol Myers Squibb’s People & Business Resource Group DAWN (Disability Advancement Workplace Network) will be co-led by DAWN and the Global Drug Development team.
“Through this work, Bristol Myers Squibb can set the standard and stage for access to life-changing and life-saving medicines for people with disabilities,” said Samit Hirawat, M.D., executive vice president and medical director, Global Drug Development, Bristol Myers Squibb.
“The long-term goal of our DDiCT programme is to develop and pilot trials that are accessible to as many patients as possible.”
“People with disabilities are omitted from conversations about diversity and inclusion, despite being the largest underrepresented group in the world and the only underrepresented group anyone can reach at any time,” added Tinamarie Duff, Global Head of Human Resources and Business at DAWN, Bristol Myers Squibb.
“It is therefore critical that we broaden the scope of medical trials and research.”
She continued: “The launch of DDiCT, particularly during Disability Pride Month, supports Bristol Myers Squibb’s overall commitment to addressing all dimensions of diversity, which means making the most effective medicine to include people with disabilities at all stages of access/trials.”