Bristol Myers Squibb (BMS) has entered a partnership with US-based non-profit organisation Disability Solutions for the Disability Diversity in Clinical Trials (DDiCT) initiative launch to enhance healthcare outcomes for individuals with disabilities.

The new programme is in line with wider inclusion and diversity health equity commitments of BMS for addressing trial and supplier diversity, health disparities, employee giving and workforce representation from 2020 to 2025.

In the initial stage, the initiative plans to provide recommendations on how to boost access, speed of enrolment, engagement and participation of individuals with disabilities in trials.

This approach will guarantee that all patient groups represent the real-world population and are in line with the epidemiology of the disease studies.

This initiative was introduced by the BMS People & Business Resource Group Disability Advancement Workplace Network (DAWN).

DAWN and the Global Drug Development team will jointly lead the project.

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Bristol Myers Squibb Global Drug Development executive vice-president and chief medical officer Samit Hirawat said: “Through this work, Bristol Myers Squibb can set the standard and stage for access to life-changing and life-saving medicines for people with disabilities.

“The long-term goal of our DDiCT programme is to develop and pilot trials that are accessible to the widest variety of patients.”

Existing common trial practices do not include up to one-fourth of the US population based on disability status, the company noted. 

A study showed that 12.4% of individuals with intellectual or developmental disabilities and 1.8% with physical disabilities were not included because of explicit exclusion criteria in 338 Phase III and IV trials. 

Furthermore, unreachable trial sites, medical equipment and ableist biases were found to prevent people with disabilities from taking part in trials to receive possibly life-saving therapies.