CVS splashes into clinical trial services, leaning on local roots to change the game in terms of patient engagement

Friday, May 21, 2021

Source: Endpoints News

Imagine picking up a gallon of milk and participating in a clinical trial while you’re at it.

That’s the future that CVS Health has dreamed up, and it could soon be a possibility as the company rolls out its new clinical trial services. While not technically a CRO, CVS Health plans to partner with them and drugmakers to recruit patients, run trials, and collect real-world data.

“Our focus is to give the patient or potential research participant choice,” Owen Garrick, VP of conduct and clinical trial services, told Endpoints News. “If we look at the assets and capabilities and history of CVS Health, we have the ability to essentially meet the patient where they are.”


About 80% of clinical studies in the US don’t meet enrollment deadlines, and on average, 30% of participants drop out before a study is completed, according to a Roots Analysis report. CVS Health is out to change that with a model that’s decentralized, convenient, and builds on the trust the company has already established with patients, Garrick said.

Over the next several years, CVS Health will convert certain HealthHUB locations into research sites, so patients could visit their local site or tune into a telehealth visit to participate. And it’ll leverage pharmacy data and local connections to recruit and educate patients.

When asked if the company will use data collected from those who received Covid-19 vaccines at CVS, Garrick said: “We will follow the CDC guidelines in terms of the ability to reach out to those individuals.”

CVS Health isn’t just looking to improve on the speed of enrollment and retention of volunteers — it’s also looking to recruit more diverse patient populations.

Of the 53 drugs approved this past year, Black patients represented about 8% of participants in the trials regulators based their decisions on (and for which data on race were collected), versus 13% of the US population. In a recently published Parexel study, a greater number of minority participants cited the number of required study visits as a barrier to inclusion, followed by visit duration and payment for travel or participation.

“Diverse populations come in and out of our locations every single day,” Garrick said. “So, without a doubt, we just have naturally, historically, engaged with diverse populations and that will continue in terms of clinical trials.”

CVS Health helped engage more than 300,000 volunteers who met inclusion criteria for Covid-19 vaccine trials, according to the company. And almost 50% of the participants they referred to clinical trials were people of color, Garrick said.

And even if a volunteer doesn’t decide to participate, Garrick said there’s value in educating more people about clinical trials.

“We’re not just looking for a transaction, but we’re looking to continue this engagement overall,” he said.

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