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Walgreens launches clinical trial platform

Giovanni Monti
Giovanni Monti, senior VP, healthcare services, Walgreens Boots Alliance. Walgreens is launching a clinical trial business.

Walgreens is offering customers the opportunity to participate in sponsor-led drug development research.

The drugstore giant is introducing a flexible clinical trial model, coinciding with recent steps taken by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to increase racial and ethnic diversity in clinical trials. As part of this effort, Walgreens is scaling three integrated, omnichannel clinical trial services:

  • Insights-driven patient recruitment: By leveraging a tech-enabled approach to patient identification and creating a large registry of clinical trial participants, Walgreens seeks to reduce the time it takes to match eligible patients to clinical trials.
  • Trials to patients: Walgreens is offering a validated and secure decentralized clinical trial platform built on a compliance and regulatory framework designed 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, are also intended to support new clinical trial approaches. Walgreens is building this operating model in an attempt to accelerate patient searches, simplify workflow, and enable a faster and more representative collection of trial data.
  • Real-World evidence and informatics: Walgreens will support sponsors’ drug development strategies, clinical trial designs, trial execution and efforts to improve diversity in trials with its proprietary data.

One of the partners for the Walgreens clinical trial offering will be Pluto Health, a multi-layered, smart care coordination service that unifies health information from multiple places (such as medical records, social determinants of health, and insurance claims) within 30 minutes. Pluto Health then evaluates patient health information to identify and close any potential gaps in care.

This new initiative is part of a wider push by Walgreens into health care. In April 2022, the pharmacy retailer expanded its “Health Corner” concept to 12 Walgreens stores in Los Angeles County and San Francisco Bay area in association with medical insurer Blue Shield of California. The in-store spaces provide customers with access to qualified health personnel such as pharmacists and registered nurses.

And in 2021, the company acquired the majority stake of VillageMD, and currently operates 120 co-located Village Medical primary-care clinics. It is looking to have at least 600 Village Medical primary care clinics at Walgreens locations in more than 30 U.S. markets by 2025, with a goal of1,000 by 2027. Walgreens has also been digitalizing a variety of healthcare services.

[Read More: Walgreens Q4 tops estimates; launches new business segment focused on health care]

“Walgreens trusted community presence across the nation, combined with our enterprise-wide data and health capabilities, enables us to pioneer a comprehensive solution that makes health options, including clinical trials, more accessible, convenient and equitable,” said Ramita Tandon, chief clinical trials officer, Walgreens. “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.”

Based in Deerfield, Ill., Walgreens is included in the U.S. segment of Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc., an integrated healthcare, pharmacy and retail company, and operates nearly 9,000 stores across the U.S., Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands

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