Our Commitment to Removing Barriers to Representation in Clinical Research
At Moderna, our approach to increasing representation in clinical research is grounded in lessons learned and in our values as a company. The last few years have amplified the responsibility of both private and public sectors to address health inequities that were exacerbated by the global pandemic. When we reflect about what health equity means to Moderna – it's making sure all people of all backgrounds have access to the promising medicines of tomorrow.
This starts with the earliest phase of making those medicines – research. In order to understand the improvements we can make, we need to understand the barriers to access that impact social determinants of health and address them head on.
As in real estate, one of the most critical determinants for accessing quality care and clinical research opportunities is location, location, location. Geographical barriers are challenges caused by where people and services physically are. As those living in more rural communities are often forced to compromise on quality healthcare because of the time it requires to travel to and from providers, trial diversity suffers because of these barriers as well.
Reaching people where they are in a way that is nimbler than what traditional pharmaceutical companies have been able to do is of the utmost importance to Moderna. We’re taking an “on the go” approach to closing gaps in clinical trial representation with mobile care centers. How do we do this? We partner with healthcare organizations to send mobile units into more remote communities and hard-to-reach neighborhoods that simultaneously offer access to basic health checkups while giving people an opportunity to learn more about opportunities to participate in our clinical trials. It’s a win-win result.
Access to Information
Another major barrier to clinical trial diversity has been access to information about the trials themselves. Historically, 94 percent of all clinical trial participants in America have been White¹. This combined with the fact that People of Color are disproportionally impacted by many of the diseases in our pipeline is an underrepresentation that we are committed to changing.
The global pandemic shifted the paradigm of how clinical trials are run - and enabled people of all backgrounds to participate, but there is still so much room to increase information sharing about clinical trials in a democratic way, keeping in mind the paramount nature of being a reputable source that people recognize and respect. At Moderna, we are prioritizing partnerships that allow us to stand on the shoulders of organizations that are well-trusted and regarded as reputable sources of health information.
Enter CVS Health. Today, we collaborate with CVS in a variety of different capacities to share information about our clinical trials. This work, combined with Moderna's integrated approach to boosting clinical trial diversity during COVID and decision to slow enrollment to ensure representation, drove 37% participation of persons of color in our COVE study,² and we continue to see this prevail³ in our other ongoing trials.
In the same vein of information sharing, it is essential to build trust in our communities, starting with principal investigators and clinical trial sites. We can reduce barriers by giving investigators the tools and providing educational materials to distribute to clinical trial participants to help build trust, which takes time.
How is Moderna building our capabilities to lead these efforts?
Moderna’s long-term commitment to representation in clinical research requires us to invest in talent with experience implementing and managing programs at organizations at scale, and we are actively hiring in 2023 with these goals in mind.
Beyond building our teams, we recognize the importance of integrating our clinical trial recruitment methodology across the organization and we are weaving into our operating model in a way that is inclusive and aims to address social determinants of health. We also plan to build unique compensation offerings for trial participants, which today include vouchers for babysitting during trial participation through partnerships with Urban Sitter and Care.com.
Above all, we will continue to lead with transparency and accountability.
As we continue to advance our mission to deliver the greatest possible impact to people through mRNA medicines, we will continue to build on our previous learnings and act as an industry leader with the innovative approaches we are taking to increase the inclusiveness of our research. We commit to a continued investment in removing barriers to access and ensuring that our clinical trials are representative. Diseases don’t discriminate, and neither should clinical research.