Clinical Trials at Your Neighborhood Walmart
(Thursday, November 3, 2022)
More than 250 million people visit their local Walmart every week. Is it possible for Walmart to use its access to people as a resource to recruit patients in clinical trials? We will find out soon. Last month Walmart announced that the Walmart Healthcare Research Institute will help recruit patients for clinical trials in chronic conditions and those with “innovative treatments”. With about 3500 stores located in every nook and corner of the country and a visitor from practically every single household, Walmart could be an ideal location to recruit patients. Recruitment of patients into clinical trials is the number one reason for the long time it takes to complete trials and the high costs which in turn translates to delays in new therapies. Clinical trials also lack diversity with anemic participation from minorities. Walmart’s effort is being promoted to address these issues. Others have tried it before with limited success. CVS and Walgreens efforts to use their storefronts and customer databases to recruit for clinical trials have had limited success. Online customer contact data warehouses such those held by Amazon, Facebook, Google, and Twitter have also had limited affect, so far. It doesn’t mean that it won’t change. Clinical trials must overcome a century to negative publicity. Most of the fears and reservations about participating in clinical trials by patients, particularly those from minority and underprivileged communities, come from incidences that happened 40-50 years ago. Over the last 40+ years, clinical trial regulations have made the likelihood of incidences, such as the Tuskegee trial, highly improbable or impossible. But it will take time to change the perceptions. Making participating in clinical trial a normal option for patients requires education from all fronts. Walmart’s efforts in this direction should help.
Dr. Mukesh Kumar
Founder & CEO, FDAMap
Linkedin: Mukesh Kumar, PhD, RAC