The Best Pharmaceuticals for Children Act (BPCA) incentivizes the study of on-patent medicines in children and mandates that the National Institutes of Health sponsor research on off-patent drugs important to pediatric therapeutics. Failing to enroll cohorts that reflect the pediatric population at large restricts the generalizability of such studies. In this investigation, we evaluate racial and ethnic minority representation among participants enrolled in BPCA-sponsored studies.
Data were obtained for all participants enrolled in 33 federally funded studies of drugs and devices conducted from 2008 through June 2020. Observed racial and ethnic distributions were compared with expected distributions by sampling Census data at the same geographic frequency as in the studies. Racial and ethnic enrollment was examined by demography, geography, study type, study burden, and expected bias. Standard descriptive statistics, χ2, generalized linear models, and linear regression were applied.
A total of 10 918 participants (51% male, 6.6 ± 8.2 years) were enrolled across 46 US states and 4 countries. Studies ranged from treatment outcome reviews to randomized, placebo-controlled trials. Minority enrollment was comparable to, or higher than, expected (+0.1% to +2.6%) for all groups except Asian Americans (−3.7%, P < .001). American Indian and Alaskan Native and multiracial enrollment significantly increased over the evaluation period (P < .01). There were no significant differences in racial distribution as a function of age or sex, although differences were observed on the basis of geography, study type, and study burden.
This study revealed no evidence of racial and ethnic bias in enrollment for pediatric studies conducted with funding from BPCA, fulfilling the legislation’s expectation to ensure adequate representation of all children.