Walgreens Announces Clinical Trials Business


On June 16, Walgreens announced the launch of its clinical trial business via a press release. The business aims to “redefine the patient experience and increase access and retention in sponsor-led drug development research.”

The release states that “The introduction of Walgreens clinical trial offerings coincides with recent steps taken by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to increase racial and ethnic diversity in clinical trials given 20 percent of drugs have a variation in responses across ethnic groups, yet 75 percent of clinical trial participants are white, while only 11 percent are Hispanic and fewer than 10 percent are Black and Asian.”

Patient recruitment and enrollment in clinical trials, that were already a challenge, was worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the release, 80 percent of trails don’t meet their enrollment goals in the timeframe first allotted, costing time and money.

The release adds that “Walgreens is addressing these challenges and improving the overall clinical trial experience by rapidly scaling three portfolio-integrated, patient-centric service lines:

  • Insights-Driven Patient Recruitment: With Walgreens patient reach and access to an extensive foundation of pharmacy and patient-authorized clinical data, the company can proactively match diverse patient populations to trials across a range of disease areas based on race, gender, socioeconomic status and location. By leveraging a tech-enabled approach to patient identification and creating a large registry of clinical trial participants, Walgreens will reduce the time it takes to match eligible patients to clinical trials.
  • Trials to Patients: Walgreens is addressing access barriers through a compliant, validated and secure decentralized clinical trial platform built on a rigorous compliance and regulatory framework to ensure patient privacy and security. This approach leverages owned and partner digital and physical assets, including select Health Corner and Village Medical at Walgreens locations, to directly engage patients at home, virtually or in-person. Synergies with AllianceRx Walgreens Pharmacy, as well as investments made by Walgreens Boots Alliance in CareCentrix and Shields Health Solutions, will also support new clinical trials approaches, particularly for specialty indications. This innovative operating model will accelerate patient searches, simplify workflow and enable a faster and more representative collection of trial data.
  • Real-World Evidence and Informatics: Walgreens is building on a legacy of delivering high-quality, real-world evidence to unlock value in therapeutics and help improve health outcomes. Through a robust foundation of real-world insights, Walgreens can support sponsors’ drug development strategies, inform clinical trial designs, optimize trial execution and improve diversity in trials. In fact, real-world insights delivered through the Walgreens COVID-19 Index helped inform national and local health decisions and plans.”

Durham, N.C.-headquartered Pluto Health, a company focused on unifying siloed health information from different sources is one of Walgreens’ partners on this new endeavor. The release explains that Pluto Health’s team evaluates health data to identify and close potential gaps in care and assists patients receive quality care like vaccinations, screenings, and other health interventions, such as clinical research.

Ramita Tandon, chief clinical trials officer, Walgreens, was quoted in the release saying that “Through the launch of our clinical trials services, we can provide another offering for patients with complex or chronic conditions in their care journey, while helping sponsors advance treatment options for the diverse communities we serve. This is yet another way we are building our next growth engine of consumer-centric healthcare solutions.”

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