Thursday, March 18, 2010

Study finds gays and lesbians excluded from some clinical trials

By Beau

A new study being published in The New England Journal of Medicine today looked at an array of clinical trials, both federally funded and industry funded, finding a clear trend of using exclusionary language for gays and lesbians in some studies, especially around those looking at sexual function.

Clinical trial work happens to be my sweet spot so I found this study interesting but not surprising.  Exclusionary language in study protocols can look surprisingly benign but anyone in the know can quickly see how the written exclusions carve out LGBT people without explicitly saying "gay", "lesbian", or referencing sexual orientation.  Bringing this kind of information to light underscores the need to address and correct the ongoing disparities in LGBT health care.  It is one more way to say that we as an LGBT population have the same needs and issues, including health issues, as every other human being, regardless of our sexual orientation.


  1. Beau, Who is advocating for us in this area?

  2. As far as I can tell, no one. Though I believe with the push for the LGBT health study project and the SAGE LGBT Aging program from the US Government, this might help.

    The fact is that most of these study protocols are being written by research medical investigators with big Pharma backing. I would think there needs to be pressure put on the Pharma companies from LGBT groups advocating for inclusion or at the very least, taking the findings of this particular study in NEJM and starting to ask questions of big Pharma leadership. It might be a case of simply using the study to raise awareness with these groups, allowing that perhaps the exclusion wasn't intentional.

  3. If you wish to pursue this with Eli Lilly Pharmaceuticals, you can contact Bob Armitage, senior VP and exec. sponsor of GLEAM, their LGBT employee affinity group. Lilly received recognition from Lambda Legal in 2009 and has been supportive of the LGBT community and its employees for 20 years. This is one company that might be responsive to this information.

  4. Clinical Trials also represent the last and only avenue for treatment and extending life, for many patients with end stage disease. By excluding Lesbian and Gay patients, clinical trials are preventing access to life saving treatment. Darryl Mitteldorf, LCSW Executive Director Out With Cancer - The National LGBT Cancer Project