Can’t serve openly in the military. Can’t get married. Can’t donated blood. Can’t get poked and prodded by scientists looking for the latest medical breakthrough?
Experts at the Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia worry that doctors may needlessly exclude gay men and lesbians from clinical trials that investigate a range of topics from cancer to diabetes and depression. A study of 243 clinical trials related to couples and sexual function after various medical treatments showed that 37 trials explicitly excluded people in same-sex relationships, according to a letter published in the New England Journal of Medicine Wednesday. “The National Institutes of Health guidelines really require scientists to have sound scientific reasoning for why they need to restrict the study to one ethnic group or sex,” said Brian L. Egleston, lead author on the paper and an assistant research professor at Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia. “But there’s not this same level of oversight when it comes to gay and lesbian patients.”
Whether researchers are looking for the latest cancer wonder-drug, Alzheimer’s treatment, or heart disease cure, narrowing studies by race, age, and gender is completely permissible in many instances, as certain clinical trials need to be targeted in very specific ways. But last anyone checked, sexuality doesn’t make a person react differently to pharmaceuticals.
Moreover, by excluding gays and lesbians from clinical trials, the severely ill among us are potentially missing out on experimental healthcare that could be our only option at recovery. And, depending on the study, earning some cold hard cash.