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July 24/31, 2002

Smoking Cessation Trials Targeted to Racial and Economic Minority Groups

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliation: Division of Clinical Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics, San Francisco General Hospital, University of California, San Francisco.

JAMA. 2002;288(4):497-499. doi:10.1001/jama.288.4.497

Well-documented racial differences in drug response1-3 have led to considerable debate about "racial profiling" of pharmacotherapy.4,5 Still, it is argued that race is a biologically meaningless term,4 and an understanding of physiology and the genetic underpinnings of drug response is a better way to target therapy. Furthermore, an individualized approach to pharmacotherapy with monitoring of patient response and modification of therapy as necessary might be just as effective as race-guided therapy. Whether to consider race in drug therapy has important implications for physicians, drug developers, and regulators. In this issue of THE JOURNAL, Ahluwalia and colleagues6 present the results of a clinical trial of sustained-release bupropion hydrochloride (bupropion SR) to aid smoking cessation in African American smokers treated at an inner-city community health center. The study demonstrates efficacy of bupropion, but the study design and resultant data raise questions about the ultimate value of pharmacotherapy trials in racial and economic subgroups.