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Building trust between the pharma industry and Black and Brown communities

Takeda leaders recently came together during the National Association of Black Journalists’ (NABJ) Virtual Convention & Career Fair for a panel discussion focused on demystifying common misconceptions about the pharmaceutical industry and clinical trials, addressing why medical mistrust in Black and Brown communities exists, and how the industry can do better to help bridge this gap.

At Takeda, we acknowledge that while our purpose is to help people live better lives, we’re part of an industry that has struggled with poor reputation, and one that people are reluctant to trust. With that, we have a responsibility to regain that trust and seek reconciliation, especially with communities of color, over past approaches to achieving scientific and medical gains at the expense of individuals and/or communities of color.

During the recent 2021 NABJ Convention & Career Fair, Mara Schiavocampo, an award-winning journalist, hosted a panel discussion, Reporting for Health Equity: Decoding Clinical Trials, with Takeda leaders Lauren Powell, M.P.A, Ph.D., Vice President, US Health Equity & Community Wellness; Chris Reddick, M.D., Vice President, Head of R&D Health Equity; Karen Correa, Ph.D., Vice President, Head of Global Clinical Operations, and Charlotte Owens, M.D., F.A.C.O.G, Vice President and Head of the Research and Development Center for Health Equity and Patient Affairs.

Here are a few takeaways from the panelists:

Acknowledging medical mistrust

“It starts with understanding the roots of medical mistrust, which includes acknowledging our historical approach to medical gains at the expense of individual wellbeing, as well as current discrimination in health care, inequities and access to healthcare insurance and facilities, among other things,” said Dr. Owens. “As an OB-GYN, by first understanding a patient’s perspective and why they feel the way they do, I can then understand their ecosystem, and I can help provide better context for things like the science of a clinical trial. Practicing as a physician during this time has illuminated the need to have open and transparent conversations between communities, healthcare providers and the industry to provide better insight into care.”

The importance of a patient’s perspective

“I’ve worked in health care and clinical settings for over 30 years, and now working in the pharmaceutical industry, I’m able to come to the table with patient perspectives in mind,” said Dr. Correa. “Understanding how patients think so that we as an industry can advocate for their voices to be heard is so important. It’s also important for patients to know that we acknowledge that the industry has had its faults, but we are evolving and are committed to driving much needed change.”

Breaking down medical misinformation barriers

“We have an opportunity right now to make our medical messaging more accessible. One of the reasons we wanted to participate in this panel was to help demystify even something as simple as the language used to describe a clinical trial, which can be hard to understand,” said Dr. Powell. “There’s an opportunity to be transparent and educate people long before the point of emergency, and now is the time to shift the paradigm to be clear about what we’re telling people.”

Partnering with the community

“Partnering with communities of color shouldn’t only happen when we’re faced with a crisis – we need to be working in lockstep with trusted community organizations and with the patients and people that live in those communities,” said Dr. Reddick. “We’re working to create these relationships to become a true partner and that takes time to build that level of trust.”

Starting with these kinds of important conversations, especially as it relates to health care, clinical trials,  and more, with organizations like the NABJ will help us build a greater connections with the communities and patients that we serve. While there is much more work to do, we strive to do our part in bridging the gaps in health equity among the Black and Brown communities.