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Report Finds Disparities in Drug Treatment for Minority Patients

Minority patients are often under-prescribed, over-prescribed, or mis-prescribed pharmaceutical treatment for cardiovascular illness, asthma, psychiatric illness, pain, and other conditions, according to a new study from the National Minority Quality Forum.

“Differences in response to pharmaceuticals in minority populations indicate the importance of including diverse groups in comparative-effectiveness assessments,” said Richard Levy, one of the authors of the study,  and a healthcare consultant and former vice president of the National Pharmaceutical Council. “Failure to do so may reduce, rather than improve, the quality of care for ethnic and racial minorities.”

The report found disparities in access to medications through insurance programs, in the prescribing of medications and in adherence to medication regimens for African Americans, Hispanics, and Asian Americans. It recommends that therapy should be tailored to individual needs, and stereotyping and overgeneralization in caring for diverse populations should be avoided.

By improving access to and use of medications in diverse groups requires policies that enable affordable, personalized therapy, the report, entitled “Origins and Strategies for Addressing Ethnic and Racial Disparities in Pharmaceutical Therapy: The Health-Care System, the Provider, and the Patient.”

Ethnic and racial background should, like factors such as age or gender, be considered in selecting drugs and dosages, in the composition of drug formularies and preferred drug lists, and in determining the scope of drug substitution policies, the report suggests.

– Renita Burns

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