Johnson & Johnson, based in New Brunswick, N.J., plans to target three areas: improving the health of communities of color, creating partnerships and alliances to improve the standing of people of color and promoting a more diverse and inclusive workforce by re-evaluating its hiring and promoting practices. Johnson & Johnson said it will provide community health centers with technology and mobile health solutions to improve access to care, improve clinical trial participation by people of color and increase minority representation in medical and scientific professions.
“As the largest and most broadly based health care company in the world, we are uniquely positioned to convene private, public and community organizations in pursuit of this shared aspiration,” said Alex Gorsky, chairman and CEO of Johnson & Johnson.
The efforts are welcome, as they will help improve how research is applied to different communities, especially for diseases that have greater prevalence in certain races or genders, said Dr. Janice Mehnert, associate director for clinical research at NYU Langone’s Perlmutter Cancer Center.
Imbalances in representation go back decades. Only in the past few years has the medical community made any meaningful changes in being inclusive of racial, gender and socioeconomic diversity, said Dr. Lynne Richardson, system vice chairwoman of emergency medicine and co-director of the Institute for Health Equity Research at the Mount Sinai Health System.
Much work will have to be done to bridge the distrust that many communities of color have for the medical community, Mehnert said. It will require work from community organizations to educate people that clinical trial research can ultimately help improve their lives, she said.
Improving access to trials will ultimately help boost outcomes, especially for cancer, because oftentimes such trials are the only means of accessing a novel, life-saving therapy, Richardson said.
“Will the $200 million solve the problem? Probably not, as there is a lot of historical baggage to overcome,” she said. “But this is a promising big step.”
Bristol Myers Squibb and Johnson & Johnson reported 2019 revenues of $26.1 billion and $82.1 billion, respectively.