‘Together We Can’ Bring Clinical Trials into our Communities

Ramita Tandon, Chief Clinical Trials Officer, Walgreens

This is a sponsored message.

Looking ahead to Clinical Trials Day on May 20, I am excited by the opportunity to work across the industry to address ways we can put patients at the center of the drug development process. A critical first step is investing the appropriate time and effort in all communities across the U.S.

We need to listen to the voices of those historically underrepresented in research and demonstrate how clinical trials may be a viable care option for them. I firmly believe these efforts will directly improve the pervasive access and diversity issues that continue to impact participation rates in research.

Together we can create a more patient-centric approach to trials using the following three pillars:

  • Community activation and engagement: This is the natural first step to creating the “surround sound” needed to educate and build trust with our local communities. It is not a one-size-fits-all approach, so we will work with partners, advocates, government officials, and others on a community-by-community basis to drive awareness on the ground level. I’m confident this enablement and education will be the doorway to empowering patients who have traditionally been left out of the clinical trial domain to participate.
  • Modern trial designs: Earlier this month, the FDA announced it is taking additional steps to support using decentralized clinical trials. Community pharmacies such as Walgreens are in an optimal position as they are generally more accessible than traditional research sites, and eligible patients may be able to enroll in studies during routine visits to their pharmacy. Working with our partners, whether drug manufacturers, healthcare systems, or payors, we now have the momentum to create hybrid operating models to enable patients to join trials with ease and convenience. It is a win for all.
  • Real-world evidence (RWE) to glean the best patient insights: We must continue investing to bring healthcare and prescription records together safely and compliantly. This work will allow us to truly understand what is happening in the context of a patient journey to inform new novel trial designs, find the best candidates for trials, and use qualitative and quantitative data to precisely inform how we tackle system-level barriers. By taking RWE outputs and making them more actionable, we can support local communities participating in clinical trials by improving medication access.

It is no secret that innovation and increased access to quality care have always been a part of Walgreens DNA. With our national footprint, trusted pharmacy care teams, expanded healthcare assets, and a 120-plus-year legacy of care, we aim to move at pace to bring clinical trials to those who have never had access before. Central to this is producing results that can be more generalizable to the entire population.

We know we cannot do this alone. The sustainability of our model relies on engaging with our communities – and each other. We are ready to foster collaboration across the industry to make progress against each of the pillars above. Challenges with health, medical, and digital literacy, as well as trust and fear, will continue among the underrepresented populations in clinical trials, but we must not be afraid to engage.

  • Together, we must do all we can to bring clinical trials to patients in underserved and unsupported communities through listening, educating, and engaging to ignite empowerment.
  • Together, we must commit to raising industry standards in health equity and access to clinical trials. Moving the needle requires rethinking the system, not reactively adjusting.
  • Together, we must celebrate Clinical Trials Day by renewing our commitment to patient-centered research and working toward a healthier, more representative future for all.

The time is now to talk less and do more. Let’s go!

Because “Together We Can.”

Author: Ramita Tandon, Chief Clinical Trials Officer, Walgreens