Racial diversity crucial to trials of drugs, treatments

Sfgate: Tuesday, May 20, 2014

As a nurse practitioner, Phyllis Howardunderstands the value of clinical trials in testing new drugs or treatment protocols. But as an African American woman, she was leery about the idea of being a test subject.

“I considered it being experimented on,” said Howard, 56, of her initial reaction to a suggestion by her UCSF oncologist that she enroll in a clinical trial shortly after her 2009 breast cancer diagnosis.

The trial was designed to test the benefit of a new chemotherapy regimen, but, she said later, a historic mistrust many African Americans have of medical research was at play, rooted in the Tuskegee experiment, an infamous trial conducted between 1932 and 1972 in which the U.S. government tracked the progress of untreated syphilis in rural black American men. Read More