Walgreens Joins Forces with Prothena to Take On CVS and Walmart in the Healthcare Market

Prothena has recently partnered with Walgreens to accelerate the process of enrolling patients in a clinical trial for an anti-amyloid antibody that could revolutionize the way we treat Alzheimer’s disease.

The partnership between the two organizations is expected to result in the completion of the first phase of the trial by the end of 2023, and the release of topline data shortly thereafter. This could be a game-changing development in the fight against Alzheimer’s, and could lead to a major breakthrough in treating the disease.

Biotech companies are teaming up with U.S. pharmacy giants in record numbers in order to increase access to clinical trials and speed up the drug development process. By leveraging pharmacies’ vast troves of patient data and established infrastructure, biotech companies can reach larger and more diverse patient cohorts and reduce costly delays. This is a huge step forward in addressing the disparities in clinical trial enrollment that have long been an issue.

Walgreens Chief Clinical Trials Officer Ramita Tandon has identified an urgent need to diversify patient populations and shake up the outdated clinical trials model that is in crisis. “The industry’s current clinical trials model is antiquated and in crisis,” Tandon said in an email to BioSpace.

Diversifying Patient Pools

In 2021, CVS made history by becoming the first pharmacy to dive into the clinical trials space with its Clinical Trial Services. Walgreens followed suit in the summer of 2022 with its Health Research Initiative, and Walmart joined the race with the launch of the Walmart Healthcare Research Institute in October of the same year.

Most recently, Kroger made its mark on the industry by launching its own clinical trial site network in January 2023. It’s clear that the world of healthcare research is growing ever more competitive and innovative.

CVS Health and other pharmacy chains have access to a wealth of patient data, including claims data from insurance companies like Aetna. With this data, they can create targeted recruitment campaigns that draw from a pool of 100 million patients. This level of access to patient prescription and diagnostic data is something that hospitals and clinics cannot provide.

Omar Abdelsamad, executive director of CVS Health Clinical Trial Services, revealed that they use a patient’s prescription history and claims data from Aetna members to reach out to them. This allows them to connect with potential participants and provide them with the best care possible.

Carri Chan, a passionate healthcare operations management professor at Columbia University, is committed to helping her students reach their fullest potential. She believes in the power of knowledge and the importance of learning the skills necessary to make a difference in the world. With her guidance, her students are sure to leave her class with the skills and confidence to succeed.

Pharmacies are well-positioned to benefit from the traditional clinical trial landscape, according to [Name], an expert in the field. Pharmaceutical companies are eager to partner with pharmacies in order to expand their reach and access a larger pool of potential participants.

It remains to be seen how much retail pharmacies such as Walgreens and CVS are charging partners for clinical trial services. When asked about the matter, Walgreens Communications Manager Steven Cohen told Biospace that the company is “not currently sharing specific revenue information on our partners.” CVS has likewise declined to reveal its profit model for its clinical trial services.

Biotech and pharma companies need reliable ways to fill clinical trials quickly and efficiently. Unfortunately, according to a 2020 study, 80% of trials fail to meet their enrollment and timeline targets, resulting in a loss of up to $8 million per day across the industry.

A 2018 analysis revealed that the single highest reason for trial termination is low patient enrollment and retention, at 55% of all trials. For this reason, services that can facilitate patient recruitment and retention are invaluable.

Beginning in December 2020, the DEPICT Act, which was included in the 2023 Omnibus spending bill, now requires that entities running clinical trials have a plan to recruit more diverse participants.

This is especially important as, historically, only 5% of Americans have taken part in clinical trials and as recently as 2020, a staggering 75% of clinical trial participants were white. Pharmacy partnerships could help companies diversify their trial populations to better reflect the population of the United States.

In an effort to both comply with federal regulations and ensure equitable representation of Alzheimer’s patients in research studies, Hideki Garren, Chief Medical Officer at Prothena, has partnered with Walgreens to make sure studies are accessible and inclusive for all. With this new initiative, Walgreens and Prothena are not only meeting their legal obligations, but are also working towards a brighter future for Alzheimer’s research.

With a focus on rural communities and communities of color, retail pharmacies are doing their part to ensure access to healthcare. Walgreens, for instance, has almost half of their pharmacies located in “socially disadvantaged communities,” making them well-equipped to boost enrollment. Following suit, Walmart made similar commitments in October 2022, showing their dedication to diversity and inclusion.

Chan acknowledged that partnering with community-based organizations is one approach to widening the pool of potential participants in clinical research; however, she emphasized that there are other critical measures necessary to promote diversity in this field.

Education is a vital part of ensuring that communities are aware of the option to participate in clinical research. It is necessary to build trust with patients and physicians to ensure that their health is the top priority when engaging in trials. To do this, it is important to form partnerships with medical professionals that can foster confidence.

Walgreens has recognized the immense potential of leveraging the trust between pharmacists and community members to facilitate enrollment in healthcare initiatives. This sentiment has been echoed by other retail giants such as Walmart and CVS, who have both highlighted the importance of building a trusting relationship with patients to ensure successful recruitment.

These companies have become a part of the daily lives of many patients, and there is likely some truth to this. However, the clinical trials conducted by these companies are often for people with severe diseases who have few other treatment options. As a result, the impact of these companies on the lives of the majority of patients is yet to be determined.

The local physician is the key to fostering public trust in the vaccine. According to Dr. Sharon Bergquist, an Emory University professor of medicine, “I think the person who is going to be most important in building that trust is their local physician.”

Without the physician’s guidance and confidence, the public may not be willing to accept the vaccine. Therefore, it is essential that local physicians are educated and informed about the safety and efficacy of the vaccine in order to ensure trust and acceptance.

In some cases, patients’ regular physicians may not always be involved in the clinical trial process, however, retail pharmacies can step in to provide accessibility and facilitate clinical trial retention in rural areas. Through their clinics and telehealth services, these pharmacies can directly collect clinical trial data and provide patients with greater convenience and ease.

A Booming Industry

Retail pharmacies can be the perfect fit for certain clinical trials, offering an opportunity for significant financial gain. However, some trials require inpatient hospital visits, meaning they may not be suitable for the retail pharmacy model. Nevertheless, there is still plenty of potential for retail pharmacies to play a part in clinical trials.

The cost of clinical trials often falls upon the drug developer, but the payoff can be immense – with faster enrollment, firms can bring their drugs to market sooner and begin reaping the rewards.

At Prothena, we are hopeful that our new partnership will help to significantly boost enrollment for our next-stage study. We believe that this partnership will also provide us with access to a more diverse range of patients, allowing us to gain a better understanding of our research and its potential applications. With this new initiative, we are looking forward to making great strides in our research.

Pharmacy partnerships have become increasingly commonplace, with CVS boasting 25 partners, Walgreens signing its first five clinical trial contracts and Walmart collaborating with a range of research organizations and medical centers. This trend has been further propelled by the need to improve patient outcomes and enhance drug delivery.

Leave a Comment