Preventable Hospitalizations and Racial Disparities in Heart Failure

Investigator: Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo, MD, PhD
Sponsor: Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

Location(s): United States


In 2005, the combination of hydralazine hydrochloride and isosor- bide dinitrate was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Adminis- tration (FDA) for treating heart failure in black patients. In depart- ing from its long history of approving drugs for general clinical indications without regard to demographic classification, the FDA cited the need to address racial disparities in health as an important contributor to their decision. The authors argue that this decision, although perhaps well-intentioned, was based on flawed scientific interpretation of trial results that claimed differential drug response by race and ignored the considerable literature on the cause of racial disparities in health and health care. Because of its potential impact on future drug approvals, the FDA’s decision is a setback in the scientific and policy discourse on medical therapeutics and race and specifically hinders the efforts aimed at eliminating health and health care disparities.