Wrapped up my summer fellowship at ProPublica last week when our investigative piece was published! Give it a read here:
A ProPublica analysis found that black people and Native Americans are under-represented in clinical trials of new drugs, even when the treatment is aimed at a type of cancer that disproportionately affects them.
The accompanying data methodology is here: How We Compared Clinical Trial and Cancer Incidence Data
For this story, I pitched the idea and did a ton of research, data analysis, reporting, interviews, all the data visualization— a huge thank you to my wonderful co-author Caroline Chen and amazing editor Sisi Wei!
The story was on the front page the day it published and seemed to be received well. I’ve learned so much from this fellowship and have been super grateful for this opportunity from ProPublica and the Google News Lab.
Update—Statement of impact since our story was published:
Our story was featured on Information is the Best Medicine, a black-owned talk radio station in Pennsylvania, as well as Axios, Vice, Mother Jones and The Atlantic’s People v. Cancer forum. It was reprinted in the Boston Globe and Indianz, a Native American publication. Nonprofit BIO Ventures for Global Health also wrote an op-ed in response to our story, noting that “clinical trials are perpetuating existing health care disparities across the globe.”
In the course of interviewing these patients, we realized that many people don’t understand how trials work, which prompted us to create the Cancer Patient’s Guide to Clinical Trials. The guide has been shared by the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.
In order to report this story, we made our own database of trial demographics, drawn from FDA websites. Our story focused on cancer, but we made our database — which covers all drugs approved since 2015 — public so that other reporters don’t have to replicate our manual labor.