Novartis U.S. Foundation commits $25M to fight against health disparities — focusing on diversifying clinical trials

The Novartis U.S. Foundation announced this week that it is committing $25 million to reduce health disparities nationwide, focusing on diversity in clinical trials, among other measures.

Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corp., the American affiliate of the Swiss drugmaker, is based in East Hanover. The nonprofit foundation’s mission is to improve health in underserved communities in the U.S. through innovative and sustainable solutions that strengthen systems, eliminate barriers to health services and enhance communities.

“In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and heightened attention on racial injustice in the U.S., there has been new and significant recognition of disparities in care in minority communities,” Tom Kendris, U.S. country president, Novartis Corp., and chairman of the board, Novartis U.S. Foundation, said in a prepared statement. “We have accelerated our commitment to create innovative and sustainable partnerships that have the potential to improve health equity in underserved communities, including African American/Black and Hispanic communities.”

Since refocusing its mission last year, the foundation has committed more than $10 million to develop partnerships helping health care systems better meet the needs of underserved patients. The latest effort will work on changing the ongoing underrepresentation of minorities in clinical drug trials. The foundation noted that, in 2019, Blacks made up 13.5% of the U.S. population, but only 9% of clinical trial participants.

“We believe the Novartis U.S. Foundation can serve as a catalyst for change through a multiyear, multimillion-dollar commitment,” Kendris said. “As part of this effort, we will collaborate with partners and support industrywide programs to improve diversity in clinical trials through systemic and policy-driven solutions that go beyond calls to study sponsors to be more inclusive.”