When BiDil was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2005 it was put on the market to only treat heart failure in African Americans.
When the medication was tested in clinical trials, it was found that black people with heart failure showed significant improvement with their symptoms and BiDil significantly decreased their risk of death or hospitalization from heart failure when added to their standard heart medications.
BiDil was developed by NitroMed, a small pharmaceutical company in Lexington, MA. The drug is the first pharmaceutical targeted exclusively at a specific racial group. However, the development of drug set off a big controversy among health professionals and social scientist over the biological justification and social ramifications of such a race-based medicine.
As reported by cardiobrief.org “for more than a decade the drug, BiDil (the combination of two generic drugs, hydralazine and isosorbide dinitrite, or H-ISDN) has been a controversial and spectacularly unsuccessful cardiology drug.”
The problems with the clinical trial – it was done on only non-Black patients, only a Black treatment group and a Black control group, from which researchers conclude it would not be possible to conclude that BiDil works any better among self-identified African Americans than among other racial groups. Also the study relied on racial self-identification. BiDil is now owned by Arbor Pharmaceuticals, which is headquartered in Price’s Atlanta district.
Find out more about the race-based drug at the links below.