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Improving Diversity in Clinical Trials

Today, the Washington Senate Health & Long-Term Care Committee is meeting to discuss, among other things, SB 5388. SB 5388 seeks to improve diversity in clinical trials.

The Northwest Kidney Council submitted the following testimony in support of SB 5388:

Chair Cleveland and members of the committee:

The Northwest Kidney Council is grateful for the opportunity to support SB 5388, which would set goals and parameters around improving diversity in clinical trials.

Our organization partners with patient advocates, healthcare professionals, care providers and researchers to advance kidney care in both Washington and Oregon. Together we are committed to ensuring that all patients with kidney disease receive high-quality care and that treatment is accessible to all.

Black, Hispanic, Asian American, and Native American populations have been proven to be more vulnerable to kidney disease.[1] SB 5388 would be an important step to ensuring better health outcomes for these underrepresented groups.

This bill would ensure that the clinical trials by which the U.S. Food and Drug Administration reviews and approves new treatments include members of demographic groups that have historically faced barriers to participation. Diversity in clinical trials is a necessity – especially for the kidney community – because it determines how new treatments will affect patients of all backgrounds.

According to the American Kidney Fund, although people of color are more likely to have kidney failure, they are underrepresented in clinical trials.[2] For example:

  • More than 1 in 3 people (about 33%) with kidney failure are Black people. But only about 1 in 10 clinical trial participants (about 9%) are Black.

  • Hispanic people are nearly 1.5 times more likely to have kidney failure compared to non-Hispanics. But, only about 1 in 10 clinical trial participants are Hispanic, while nearly 7 in 10 participants are non-Hispanic.

Additionally, patients that are involved in these clinical trials can feel more connected to their care team, which is essential for those managing a chronic illness. While diversity in clinical trials is important for kidney treatments, it is essential across disease populations because so many other illnesses – diabetes, high blood pressure, etc. – contribute to a patients’ risk of developing chronic kidney disease.

Improving diversity in clinical trials would inevitably expand access to quality care across the state of Washington and the Northwest Kidney Council encourages your strong support of this concept.


Nathaniel Brown, director of advocacy


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