BETHEL, CT – People with disabilities comprise nearly one-quarter of the population and have traditionally been excluded from clinical drug trials. However, a new initiative is looking to change that and give people with disabilities access to potentially life-saving medications.
Disability Solutions, a division of Ability Beyond based in Chappaqua, NY, entered into a joint initiative with Bristol Myers Squibb (BMS) to launch Disability Diversity in Clinical Trials. The collaboration will examine ways to improve access, engagement, enrollment, and participation of people with disabilities in clinical trials, and ensure all patient groups are reflective of the real-world population.
“For too long, those with disabilities have been excluded from clinical drug trials,” said Jane Davis, the Chief Executive Officer of Ability Beyond. “I couldn’t be more excited for Disability Solutions, a division of Ability Beyond, to be partnering with Bristol Myers Squibb to examine ways that more people with disabilities can be given access to research and life-saving medications. Through this collaboration, we can have a positive impact on the national health care system for those with disabilities.”
Current common clinical trial practices exclude up to one-fourth of the U.S. population-based on disability status. Studies have shown some of the barriers for disability participation within clinical trials are caused by inaccessible trial sites, medical equipment, and ableist biases which deter this community from receiving potentially life-saving treatments.
“The long-term goal of the program is to develop and pilot trials that are accessible to the widest variety of patients,” said BMS CMO Samit Hirawat. “Through their extraordinary work for nearly 70 years, including this transformational work with BMS, Ability Beyond and Disability Solutions continue to change minds, create a more inclusive society, and improve the lives of people with disabilities.”
Ability Beyond launched Disability Solutions nearly a decade ago to help companies create more inclusive work environments and show the value those with disabilities can provide to their organizations. Since then, the division has worked with numerous Fortune 500 companies including Pepsi, Synchrony Financial, Uber and more to drive true disability inclusion.
“It is clear fundamental change is needed to improve healthcare for the disability community,” said Julie Sowash, the Executive Director of Disability Solutions. “The need for inclusion in health care settings for people with disabilities is pervasive. By taking action, BMS becomes the leader in the pharmaceutical industry in breaking down one of barriers keeping people with disabilities in poorer health than our non-disabled counterparts. And we are proud to partner in the initiative.”