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Bristol Myers Squibb this week announced the launch of its Disability Diversity in Clinical Trials (DDiCT) initiative in collaboration with Disability Solutions, a U.S. nonprofit that helps companies around the world achieve true disability inclusion.

Common clinical trial practices currently exclude up to 25% of the U.S. population because of disability status. The DDiCT initiative will help improve healthcare outcomes for people with disabilities and aligns with BMS’ broader inclusion and diversity health equity commitments to address health disparities, supplier diversity, employee giving and workforce representation.

The DDiCT initiative initially aims to make recommendations on how to improve access, engagement, speed of enrollment, and participation of people with disabilities in clinical trials, to ensure all patient groups are reflective of the real-world population and aligned with the epidemiology of the disease studies. The project was initiated by the BMS People & Business Resource Group DAWN (Disability Advancement Workplace Network) and will be co-led by DAWN and the Global Drug Development Team.

“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,” said Samit Hirawat, M.D., executive vice president and chief medical officer, BMS Global Drug Development.

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

According to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) which examined 338 phase III and IV studies, 12.4% of people with intellectual or developmental disabilities and 1.8% of those with physical disabilities failed to be included due to explicit exclusion criteria. The study also identified barriers for disability diversity within clinical trials such as inaccessible trial sites, medical equipment, and “ableist biases” that deter disabled people from receiving potentially life-saving treatments.

Disabiilty Solutions is a division of Ability Beyond and works directly with forward thinking and inclusive companies who have identified the value of being inclusive of people with disabilities in all facets of their organization. Disability Solutions works with more than 60 companies globally to drive true disability inclusion.