Walgreens, Boehringer Ingelheim Agree to Collaboration on Enhancing Clinical Trial Diversity

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Partnership expected to utilize Walgreens’ pharmacies as recruitment and trial sites for a clinical study regarding obesity, weight issues, and type 2 diabetes, mainly in historically underrepresented groups.

Medicine Shortage. Image Credit: Adobe Stock Images/freshidea

Image Credit: Adobe Stock Images/freshidea

Walgreens and Boehringer Ingelheim have announced a joint venture, which will focus on the growth of diversity and accessibility in clinical trials. As part of the collaboration, Walgreens will provide recruitment and trial sites for a Phase III clinical study targeting conditions such as obesity and type 2 diabetes for underrepresented groups, with Boehringer Ingelheim expected to strategically select specific Walgreens pharmacies to participate in the initiative. According to both companies, the collaboration aims to eradicate barriers, improve access, and offer equitable health representation in clinical trials, especially for Black and Hispanic populations.1

“Embracing our pharmacy clinical trial centers in this study underscores our joint commitment to community health and innovation,” said Ramita Tandon, chief clinical trials officer, Walgreens, in a press release. “This model not only provides foundational education on clinical research for patients but also empowers individuals, offering them a new pathway to engage in their healthcare through clinical trial participation. It’s a step forward in transforming the landscape of clinical research, helping to make clinical trials more inclusive and accessible.”

Boehringer Ingelheim also intends to partner with EmVio Research through the introduction of mobile research units, offering greater reach and additional options for participants. Overall, the initiative is a reaction to the global challenge of obesity, which is expected to affect 24% of the world population by 2035, by leveraging multiple locations and integrating real-world insights.1

“At EmVenio, we believe that innovation is meaningful and access to clinical trial research should be universal. Our partnership with Boehringer Ingelheim exemplifies our commitment to breaking down barriers and expanding access to transformative healthcare solutions,” said Thad Wolfram, president, EmVenio Research, in the press release. “By bringing clinical trials directly to local communities, we're not just conducting research, we're fostering inclusivity and diversity in clinical trials.”

Last year, a study published by the New England Journal of Medicine stressed the importance of diversity in clinical trials. The authors of the study noted that the lack of representation from marginalized racial and ethnic groups, women, and other subjugated groups has remained an issue despite growing awareness efforts. In order to achieve proper clinical trial diversity, the study pinpoints three main areas for improvement:

  • Earning trust: Historically, marginalized communities have shown a lack of trust toward medical institutions as a result of previous abuse. The study suggests that clinical trials focusing on these communities will help gain trust to continue in clinical trials.
  • Promoting fairness: The authors suggest that removing barriers to participation and ensuring that the burdens and benefits of research will make it much easier to achieve equality in clinical trials. This would include mobile recruitment, transportation support, and building trial infrastructures in underserved areas.
  • Advancing biomedical knowledge: According to the study, there is a possibility that focusing more on diseases disproportionately affecting marginalized groups might be a more effective strategy for broadening knowledge moving forward.2

“Boehringer is proud to embrace this community-centric approach to clinical research with Walgreens and EmVenio,” said Lennart Jungersten, SVP, medicine & regulatory affairs, Boehringer Ingelheim US, in the press release. “By bringing clinical trials into the heart of local communities, we’re making them more accessible, helping to provide access to diverse populations with pressing health needs to participate in our clinical trials. Boehringer Ingelheim is committed to helping those living with overweight and obesity to transform lives for generations to come.”

References

1. Walgreens and Boehringer Ingelheim Are Partnering to Improve Diversity in Clinical Trials. BusinessWire. May 2, 2024. Accessed May 2, 2024. https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20240502134064/en/Walgreens-and-Boehringer-Ingelheim-Are-Partnering-to-Improve-Diversity-in-Clinical-Trials

2. Why Diverse Clinical Trial Participation Matters. The New England Journal of Medicine. April 1, 2023. Accessed May 2, 2024. https://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMp2215609

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