Clinical trials & the power of diversity

Advancing science powered by greater diversity in our clinical research

September 9, 2020

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The importance of including minority communities is critical across all levels of clinical research.

With the rise of the COVID-19 pandemic, which we know disproportionately impacts communities of color, coupled with research showing that some medicines and vaccines work differently among different types of people, our responsibility here at Merck is clear – we must advance knowledge about the safety and efficacy of treatments in all people. And for us, this starts with ensuring the representation of diverse populations from the very beginning of medicine and vaccine development – our clinical trials.

We strive to enroll diverse individuals in our clinical trials across the globe, with a particular focus on increasing diversity in our U.S. trials. To do this, our U.S. clinical trial team has adopted an approach that puts patients front and center. Starting with the design of the trial, to trial recruitment and all the way through to implementation, patients drive our process.  

“Diversity in our trials is not just an initiative – it’s our way of working,” said Adrelia Allen, associate director and clinical research manager, North America. “It’s woven into all steps of the trial process, and it must be proactive – not reactive.”

A multifaceted approach to a multifaceted issue

We weave diversity into our clinical trials process in many different ways to help achieve our ultimate goal of bringing new medicines to all patients. Below are a few examples of our approach in action:


Our trial sites are selected with inclusion in mind

By closely evaluating epidemiology, racial diversity data and U.S. census information, we’re able to select partner sites that reflect the diverse nature of our patient population.


We collaborate with trusted voices

In partnering with community-based organizations within trial site areas, we’re able to increase trust and broaden community participation in our clinical research.


Outreach and education tailored to communities

We train our employees for outreach within diverse communities with educational materials that resonate and inform specific patient populations.


Create new enrollment standards within minority communities

We created a dashboard for our clinical team to virtually track our minority engagement and enrollment.


Ongoing learning with subject matter experts

Our cross-functional team routinely discusses areas of success and process improvement so that we can continue to increase patient diversity in our clinical trials.