Retail pharmacy giant Walgreens is teaming up with the Cardiovascular Research Foundation to support research into valvular heart disease among older seniors.
The two organizations are collaborating on the PREVUE-VALVE study, a population-based clinical trial that aims to quantify the prevalence of valvular heart disease (VHD) among older patients and pave the way for the development of new therapies and tools for VHD detection and diagnosis.
The Cardiovascular Research Foundation is a leading nonprofit organizations specializing in interventional cardiology innovation,
The partnership aims to bolster patient recruitment efforts to increase diversity and access in the PREVUE-VALVE study, the companies said.
The PREVUE-VALVE study is currently underway, with topline results expected in 2025, the organizations said.
Retail pharmacy giant Walgreens launched its clinical trials unit back in June 2022 as the company's healthcare ambitions continue to grow. As the company continues to build out its clinical trials business, it signed a deal with biotech startup Freenome to advance clinical trials of its blood-based tests for the early detection of cancer.
Walgreens aims to leverage its national presence, community relationships and data-driven clinical trials solutions to help identify and reach potential study participants, the company said.
“The aging population has led to a surge in the incidence and prevalence of valvular heart disease in the United States. Unfortunately, many patients with valvular heart disease remain untreated or receive treatment later than recommended due to various barriers. At the Cardiovascular Research Foundation, we believe efficient clinical trials are essential for arming us with insights to effectively tackle this critical health challenge,” said David J. Cohen, M.D. director of clinical and outcomes research at CRF in a statement.
Partnering with Walgreens will help the organization engage a broader and more representative patient population for enrollment in the PREVUE-VALVE study and improve the ability to "diagnose valvular heart disease before the onset of irreversible cardiac damage, which will allow for more timely treatment and ultimately, better health outcomes, for our patients," Cohen said.
Walgreens is betting that its longitudinal pharmacy and social determinants of health data and proprietary automated recruitment selection software will help to reach eligible patients for enrollment.
While Walgreens continues to grow the business, rival CVS Health announced in May it was winding down its clinical trials arm just two years after its launch. The company will fully exit clinical trials by the end of 2024, executives said.
Walgreens operates about 9,000 drugstores with a presence in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, nearly half of which are in socially vulnerable areas, according to the company. More than 75% of Americans live within five miles of a Walgreens.
Historically, estimates of the prevalence of VHD in the United States have been derived from homogeneous populations with minimal diversity—particularly with respect to race and ethnicity. The older population, where VHD is more prevalent, has been disproportionately excluded from clinical trials. By enrolling a population representative of the U.S. as a whole, the PREVUE-VALVE study is a crucial step toward developing testing and treatments that address the needs of the most affected patients, according to Walgreens and the Cardiovascular Research Foundation.
“We know that older adults are vastly underrepresented in clinical trials and research despite being disproportionately impacted by many diseases,” said Ramita Tandon, chief clinical trials officer at Walgreens in a statement. “Walgreens is proud to leverage our expertise and capabilities in inclusive clinical trial recruitment in partnership with the Cardiovascular Research Foundation and other high-caliber collaborators to improve cardiovascular research for a population with significant unmet needs.”
In a similar Phase 3 cardiovascular study, Walgreens says it exceeded its recruitment within weeks. Real-world insights enabled Walgreens to tap into historically underrepresented populations, resulting in a significant increase in Black/African American (17%) and Hispanic/Latino (19%) participation in the clinical trial, compared to nationwide 2020 averages of clinical trial participation of 8% and 11% respectively.