Prescribing certain medications on the basis of a patient's race has long come under fire from those uneasy with using race as a surrogate for biology when treating disease. But there are multiple challenges to overcome before we can move beyond race-based treatment decisions, writes Duke University geneticist and bioethicist Charmaine Royal in an article in the New England Journal of Medicine.
Optimizing drug treatments to a patient's unique genetic makeup, lifestyle, environment and other factors, rather than race, could help ensure that patients receive the right drug at the right dose. One barrier here is the lack of participant diversity in biomedical research and clinical trials. Addressing the problem will require recruiting more participants from minority groups to better reflect the diversity of the U.S. population. Moving beyond race-based drug prescriptions will depend on the ability to equip health care providers with the resources and training they will need to collect and make sense of more types of data.
Do you agree that prescribing drugs to patients largely based on race is a mistake?