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The Race to Prescribe

Drug for African Americans may debut amid debate

11:34am, April 12, 2005

The second in a two-part series on race, biology, and medicine. Part I: "Code of Many Colors," is available at Code of Many Colors.

Most modern medical research into race or ethnicity focuses on the disturbingly long list of health disparities among different groups. For example, compared with whites, blacks are 30 percent more likely to die of heart disease at any given age and 40 percent more likely to die of a stroke. Overall, blacks have an average life expectancy that's 5 years shorter than that of whites.

Identifying such inequalities is one step toward helping each population get appropriate medical care. Sometimes, that requires making the same tests and treatments available across the board, but it may also mean tailoring medicine to particular groups. For instance, a controversial new drug for heart failure may

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