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June 17, 1992

The Use of Race in Medical Research

Author Affiliations

New York Medical College Staten Island

JAMA. 1992;267(23):3150-3151. doi:10.1001/jama.1992.03480230042013

To the Editor.  —Can racial research be "racist" if it results in major clinical benefits to a minority group?A recent Lancet editorial observed: "For many clinical scientists the painful fact is that there are many physiological differences between black and white hypertensives."1 Careful studies of these differences (which may be both genetic and environmental in their origin) led a Joint National Committee to conclude that blacks respond better to diuretics and calcium antagonists than to β-blockers or ACE (angiotensin converting enzyme) inhibitors.2,3 These findings should be of great benefit to black hypertensive patients and may help them to live longer and healthier lives.Also, there are racial differences in drug metabolism: rapid acetylation is much more common in Orientals than in blacks or whites.4,5 This information has benefited Orientals suffering from tuberculosis, since physicians now recognize them as a group at higher risk of isoniazid toxic