Walgreens takes on clinical trial business with new chief

The new business is led by Ramita Tandon, who has built and led teams at high-performing clinical trial businesses and companies such as Trip Health and ICON. In her 25-year career in health care, Tandon has focused on partnering with biopharmaceutical companies and finding innovative ways to uncover the patient voice to conduct trials more effectively.

Clinical trials do not reflect the US population. Twenty percent of drugs have differences in responses among racial groups, yet 75% of clinical trial participants are white. And only 11% are Hispanic and less than 10% are black and Asian, according to the Food and Drug Administration.

[Read more: Walgreens launches clinical trial business]

New Walgreens business shared with chief clinical trial officer Drugstore News How his team will make clinical trials more accessible, convenient and equitable.

Drugstore News: How will you continue to break down barriers for different patient populations?
Twig Tendon: I strongly believe that everyone should be educated, empowered and given the opportunity to access cutting-edge treatments that improve their health. However, today’s current clinical trial infrastructure and patient demographics are in crisis. We have an overwhelmingly white trial population in zip codes centralized in large hospital systems and research centers that produce clinical data that may not be relevant for all patients. At Walgreens, we are looking to redefine the patient experience by making participation in clinical trials more accessible, convenient and equitable for the diverse communities we serve.

Clinical trials are not only avenues for research but also a means of bringing patients from underserved communities into the overall health care system. To do so, we’ve created the ideal blend of technology, personal connectivity and the flexible care capabilities needed to transform clinical trial delivery, with patient safety and privacy at the forefront of everything we do. With more than half of Walgreens stores located in socially disadvantaged areas, we have a responsibility to stand up and address the persistent clinical trial disparities that prevent many of our friends, families and neighbors from being seen and cared for.

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DSN: How will the clinical trial business differ from others you have led in the past?
RT: Walgreens’ new clinical trial offering has the potential to create the missing bond between the public and clinical research, allowing innovation to develop into medicines that inspire confidence and improve outcomes. Walgreens is uniquely positioned to provide flexible clinical trial options that engage patients and address barriers to clinical trial participation, particularly in underserved communities.

With our community presence, enabled by our enterprise-wide data and health solutions, including Health Corners, Village Medicine at Walgreens locations, AllianceRx Walgreens Pharmacy, CareCentrix and Shields Health Solutions, we can unlock the combination of in- In-person, virtual and hybrid clinical trial models scale to meet patients where they are. This will undoubtedly help promote patient enrollment, engagement and retention in clinical studies as we educate patients on how they want to participate in trials and promote clinical research as a promising care option.

Also, when the trial ends, it’s not over for Walgreens. Our goal is to continue to coordinate the care of trial participants even after they have completed their obligations in the clinical trial, and as part of our commitment to last-mile capability.

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