Jun 17, 2022 - Health

Walgreens gets into the clinical trials business

The Walgreens W on a sign.

Photo: Robert Alexander/Getty Images

Walgreens is getting into the clinical trial business, with the pharmacy giant saying Thursday it wants to change the patient experience and improve retention in sponsor-led drug research.

Why it matters: The chain's latest expansion into the health care delivery business is aimed at addressing the ongoing problem of low racial and ethnic diversity in clinical trials.

  • The problem was spotlighted this week as members of a key FDA advisory committee raised concerns about a lack of diversity in trials testing COVID-19 shots in infants and toddlers.
  • The FDA has called improving diversity in trials a priority since 20% of drugs have a difference in response across ethnic groups. Roughly three in four clinical trial participants are white, 11% are Hispanic and fewer than 10% are Black and Asian.

Zoom in: Walgreens said it would be able to combine its "vast foundation" of patient insights and in-person and virtual care options to better reach more diverse participants.

  • "We are building our next growth engine of consumer-centric healthcare solutions," said Ramita Tandon, chief clinical trials officer for Walgreens.

The bottom line: Throughout the pandemic, Walgreens, CVS Health and Walmart have extended their business models into care delivery through clinics, vaccination programs, digital health tools and insurance partnerships. This is the latest iteration.

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