New campaign from The Trial for #ClinicalEquality – “Worth Less” – spotlights the cost of clinical inequality

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New York, May 20, 2024 – In recognition of Clinical Trials Day, The Trial for #ClinicalEquality –a longstanding and widely celebrated initiative from FCB Health New York, an IPG Health company – continues the fight to increase equity in clinical trials with the next phase of its campaign entitled, “Worth Less.” The new campaign highlights the full burden, or “cost,” of lack of diversity in clinical research, in terms of the impact it has on people, on scientific innovation, on healthcare quality and costs, and on public trust, as highlighted in a 2022 report by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine.1

“This next phase of the Trial for #ClinicalEquality continues to shine a light on the damaging impact that the lack of diversity in clinical trials has and underscores that it’s a critical issue that everyone has a stake in,” said Sommer Bazuro, PhD, Chief Medical Officer, IPG Health. “While there has been progress among clinical trial sponsors since we launched in 2020 – with many influential partners joining us to bring this conversation to some of the largest stages in the world – there’s still more work to be done, particularly as we look at the full burden, or cost, that a lack of diversity in clinical research has.”

Financial Cost

Based on the National Academies report, health disparities in heart disease, hypertension and diabetes and the resulting mortality, morbidity and loss of work will cost society more than $5 trillion through to 2050. Better representation in clinical trials would lead to reductions in these health disparities, which would save all US taxpayers billions of dollars.1 

Cost on Scientific Innovation

When clinical trials are not inclusive, clinical trial sponsors fail to acquire vital scientific data from a diverse patient population, which could lead to important discoveries for the broader population.1 For instance, PCSK9 inhibitors, a class of cholesterol-lowering medicines expected to hit a $2 billion valuation in 2030, owe their discovery in part to diverse clinical trials. In Black patients, scientists discovered a variant of the PCSK9 gene that is associated with lower cholesterol and as a result identified this gene as an important target for treatment.2,3

Cost on People

Patients of color are disproportionately impacted by diseases such as diabetes and heart disease and yet poorly represented in clinical trials for those conditions. 4–7 For example, 0% of clinical trial participants are Native American, yet diabetes hits their communities the hardest, depriving at-risk groups of life-improving and/or life-saving therapies, which increase the disease burden on their families and communities.4,5

Cost on Public Trust

A lack of diverse representation in research further degrades trust among underrepresented groups and healthcare professionals and has the potential to further worsen healthcare disparities.8,9 More than 70% of physicians in the US are being asked a question by their patients that they cannot answer for all: Will this new medicine work in people like me?9

Clinical Equality, FCB Health New York

About the “Worth Less” campaign 

The new campaign features a series of 15 arresting portrait images that were created using generative AI licensed from Adobe Stock. Given the specific portrait style and diverse ethnicities needed across age and gender, the use of AI helped the campaign most accurately spotlight people from various ethnic minority groups impacted by clinical inequality. The provocative headline – which is used consistently on all the campaign visuals –  is designed as a double entendre, asking the question whether the lives of patients of color are “WORTHLESS”, meaning entirely of no value, and also “WORTH LESS” than other lives.  Supporting text reveals the wider implications of failing to include these patients in clinical trials with startling stats like “3% of patients in heart disease clinical trials are Black, yet they die of this disease at the highest rate.”6,7 The accompanying campaign film features supers on screen and includes the moving and powerful portrait images with bold statements such as, “We all pay the price when clinical trials are not inclusive.”  https://youtu.be/ec1VyvINJQA

“Nearly four years later, our goal with this campaign remains the same – to raise awareness about the lack of diversity in clinical trials as part of our broader commitment to championing health equity,” said Kathleen Nanda, Chief Creative Officer, FCB Health New York. “Creatively we continued with the stark, black and white imagery for ‘Worth Less,’ – consistent with the initial campaign – leveraging generative AI for a consistent look, feel and tone across portraits that also added a dynamic element to the work, while calling attention to the provocative data and stats. The simplicity of the concept is intentional – drawing audiences into the facial expressions of the subjects and revealing the seriousness of this issue. In terms of messaging, our aim is not just to shock, but also to empower everyone to make a difference, which is why we close the campaign video with a powerful rallying cry: ‘when we take action and invest in diversity…clinical trials are WORTH MORE.’ This speaks to the various reports that diverse clinical trials will benefit all of society.”

The award-winning Trial for #ClinicalEquality launched in 2020 to raise awareness about the lack of diversity in cancer clinical trials. Over the last few years, #ClinicalEquality has partnered with advocacy groups, pharmaceutical companies and research institutions to educate both the public and the medical establishment, and to bring the conversation to some of the largest stages in the world including Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity and SXSW. 

To learn more about the issue of clinical trial diversity and the “Worth Less,” campaign, visit clinicalequality.com.

About FCB Health New York, an IPG Health Company 

Part of the IPG Health Network, FCB Health New York is a full-service agency with more than 40 years of experience marketing to healthcare professionals, patients and consumers. As a creative collective that believes in a never finished process with a passion for growth, driving business forward is in the agency’s DNA. With a client roster comprised of top brands both big and small, FCB Health New York is constantly innovating and creating highly effective solutions that accelerate their impact on the world. The agency has earned a steady stream of industry accolades year after year from Cannes Lions to Clio Health, to the Manny Awards. In 2022, FCB Health New York was named to Ad Age’s annual “Best Places to Work” list. Visit www.fcbhealthny.com to learn more.

References

  1. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine. Improving Representation in Clinical Trials and Research. Available at: https://nap.nationalacademies.org/catalog/26479/improving-representation-in-clinical-trials-and-research-building-research-equity [Last accessed April 2024]
  2. Cohen JC, Boerwinkle E, Mosley TH, et al. Sequence variations in PCSK9, low LDL, and protection against coronary heart disease. N Engl J Med 2006;354(12):1264–1272. 
  3. UNC (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill). Atherosclerosis risk in communities study description. Available at: https://sites.cscc.unc.edu/aric/desc [Last accessed April 2024] 
  4. CDC. Prevalence of Diagnosed Diabetes. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/diabetes/data/statistics-report/diagnosed-diabetes.html [Last accessed April 2024] 
  5. Turner BE, Steinberg JR, Weeks BT, et al. Race/ethnicity reporting and representation in US clinical trials: A cohort study. Lancet Reg Health Am 2022 Jul:11:100252. doi: 10.1016/j.lana.2022.100252.
  6. CDC. Heart disease facts. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/heartdisease/facts.htm [Last accessed April 2024] 
  7. Chen S, Li J. Participation of Black US Residents in Clinical Trials of 24 Cardiovascular Drugs Granted FDA Approval, 2006-2020. JAMA Network Open 2021;4(3):e212640. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2021.2640.
  8. Schwartz AL, Alsan M, Morris AA, et al. Why Diverse Clinical Trial Participation Matters. N Engl J Med 2023; 388(14):1252–1254.
  9. Alsan M, Durvasula M, Gupta H, et al. Representation and Extrapolation: Evidence from Clinical Trials. Q J Econ 2024;139:575–635. 

Source: IPG Health