The U.S. Senate recently passed legislation aimed at improving access to clinical trials for communities of color and decreasing health disparities. The bill is now headed to the president for signature.
The Henrietta Lacks Enhancing Cancer Research Act works to increase access and remove barriers to participation in federally sponsored cancer clinical trials among communities that are traditionally underrepresented. This legislation would direct the federal government to study policies that impact diverse participation in federally sponsored cancer clinical trials nationwide and recommend potential policy changes that would reduce barriers and make it easier for patients from diverse backgrounds to enroll in clinical trials.
The legislation is named after Henrietta Lacks, a Black woman who died from cervical cancer and whose cells were taken without her knowledge or consent during her treatment and have been used to develop some of modern medicine’s most important breakthroughs, including the development of the polio vaccine and treatments for cancer, HIV/AIDS, and Parkinson’s disease.