Biomedical research ethical review shows exclusion of key groups

Biomedical research has made great advances in the last decades.  It has a significant value to the population health care and the equity of access for all but the eventual exclusion in biomedical research of some minority groups could harm them. In this respect several years ago we published an article on this issue; Thousands of autistic girls and women “going undiagnosed” due to sex bias.

The increasing diversification of our societies with the inclusion of more ethnic and racial groups and the large increment in the proportion of elderly should be reflected in the enrollment of biomedical research.

Latest biomedical research ethical review

In this respect, an article published last month in Science – Policy Forum entitled Justice, diversity, and research ethics review made an update of this mater that has a biomedical and bioethical great interest.

The authors begin their review with the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on certain American populations such as Black, Latinx and indigenous to show the relevance of the issue. They maintain that “Yet too often, in the United States and globally, participant enrollment in research has not reflected the demographic composition of the general population, those affected by the health conditions being studied, or those for whom the investigational product is intended, with racial and ethnic minorities and the young and the elderly, among others, being consistently underrepresented. Underlying causes for this underrepresentation have been described but change has been slow.”

The review shows a lack of effective control in a capital point

The article shows the relevant role that plays institutional review boards (IRBs) and research ethics committees (RECs) in promoting an adequately represented group in biomedical research. In this respect, the authors maintain that these institutions have been underrecognized and their authority underutilized.

The study ends with a summary of the actions that IRBs and RECs should make effective to resolve this relevant matter on current medical research in the United States and globally. From our Observatory, we hope that the authorities and the established supervisory bodies will assume the important responsibility that they have to resolve this problem as soon as possible.