Johnson & Johnson has made diversity, equity and inclusion in clinical trials a priority to help create transformational therapies that work for all patients.
An important step on our journey to achieving health equity is ensuring everyone has the opportunity to participate in clinical research, should it be right for them.
Underrepresented populations face a variety of barriers that impact clinical trial enrollment, including fear and mistrust, lack of awareness and logistical challenges. Through structured processes to examine and advance DEI in clinical trials, including multiple partnerships for enhancing awareness and building trust among under-resourced and underrepresented communities, we hope to change the trajectory of health disparities in clinical research.
According to the FDA, 75% of clinical trial participants for new molecular entities and therapeutic biologics approved in 2020 were white, 8% were Black or African American, 6% were Asian and 11% were Hispanic.51
In 2022, our Janssen Diversity, Equity & Inclusion in Clinical Trials (DEICT) team created a template to embed diversity into the clinical trial process. The template is relevant for all Janssen therapeutic areas and covers dimensions of diversity including race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation and socioeconomic factors. Using this template, and insights from Janssen’s Research Includes Me initiative, equitable representation in clinical trials can be strengthened.
Research Includes Me meets communities where they are with educational materials, connects patients to current trials and partners with advocacy groups to understand these communities’ needs and build trust in the safety of clinical trials and the healthcare system overall. In 2022, Research Includes Me connected more than 84 million people to messages on the importance of diverse representation in clinical research through its website, co-hosted and multilingual events and participation at community events with Mobile Health vans.
In 2022, our DEICT team completed a clinical trial diversity plan across all Janssen’s therapeutic areas that includes supporting local markets and a metrics reporting dashboard to help guide further progress. This approach also aligns with anticipated FDA initiatives to expand action and disclosure on clinical trial diversity. Within Janssen, different research teams demonstrate their commitment in each area. For example, the Janssen Immunology DEI Working Group formulated its specific DEI strategy and made progress by hiring racially and ethnically diverse leaders for Janssen R&D, enhancing culturally relevant training, hosting speaker events on racial and ethnic disparities in healthcare and engaging in innovation and partnerships to promote inclusive research.
Janssen was one of the first organizations to proactively submit a diversity plan to the FDA for an oncology trial, well ahead of the regulatory body’s new guidance on initiatives to expand action and disclosure on clinical trial diversity. The FDA’s commitment to prioritizing diversity in clinical research has the potential to better connect regulatory approaches with the industry’s broader health equity goals, which will help Janssen deliver on its mission to create a future where disease is a thing of the past.
Improving representation in cancer clinical trials
Janssen Oncology supports enhancing clinical research capabilities in Africa through collaboration with the African Access Initiative (AAI), a public-private partnership driven by the BIO Ventures for Global Health, a nonprofit that accelerates R&D for poverty-related diseases in Africa and addresses the disparity in representation of Africans in cancer clinical trials. Janssen Oncology’s support for AAI began in 2022 with the initial assessment of access to cancer care in 10 hospitals in five African countries, patient education and community awareness programs, as well as training programs for more than 2,000 HCPs on cancer diagnosis and treatment.
Janssen Oncology provided a $5 million grant to Stand Up To Cancer, a nonprofit organization supporting cancer research, to support the development of innovative approaches to removing barriers to clinical trial participation for patients of all racial and ethnic backgrounds, as well as patients in medically underresourced communities.
President and CEO, Stand Up To Cancer
Janssen Oncology provided a grant of $3 million to the American Cancer Society to fund its Navigating Patients Across the Care and Treatment Continuum program. Janssen’s contribution will support collaboration with 20 health systems over three years, enhancing the oncology patient experience and addressing barriers to enrollment for underrepresented or marginalized communities.
Accelerating diversity in MedTech research
J&J MedTech is taking steps to improve meaningful representation in clinical studies leading to better products and better outcomes. In 2022, we developed our policy position on Diversity in Research & Clinical Trials (U.S.) outlining our call for policies that reduce barriers to participation. We also continue to support the ‘Diversifying Investigations Via Equitable Research Studies for Everyone (DIVERSE) Trials Act’, introduced in the U.S. House and Senate in 2021, which provides expanded legal authority for companies to diversify their clinical trials. As a founding sponsor of MedTech Color, J&J MedTech helps advance the representation of persons of color in the medtech industry.
51 Drug Trials Snapshots Report (2020), https://www.fda.gov/media/145718/download, accessed February 2023.