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Walgreens partners to increase diversity in cancer research

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Walgreens and Freenome establish multi-year relationship.

Ramita Tandon

DEERFIELD, Ill. — Walgreens and Freenome have established a multi-year relationship to advance clinical studies of the latter’s blood-based tests for the early detection of cancer. Walgreens will combine its national footprint, patient insights, compliant recruitment technology and local infrastructure to engage diverse patient populations in Freenome’s multi-cancer research program.

“At Walgreens, our aim is to help every community we serve see clinical research as a viable care option,” said chief clinical trials officer Ramita Tandon. “Through our nationwide presence and trusted pharmacists, we can reach and engage previously underserved patient populations for clinical trials. Supporting the identification of cancers when they are most treatable is one more way we are helping to improve health outcomes of our communities and patients while advancing research in oncology.”

Working together with technology provider Curebase, Walgreens will initially recruit patients across diverse populations for Freenome’s Sanderson Study, which aims to evaluate blood-based early detection tests for multiple cancers. Using Curebase’s platform, Walgreens will deliver targeted outreach to potentially eligible patients and caregivers of all backgrounds via text, email or in-person consultation at the pharmacy. After completing a pre-screen, eligible patients are invited to enroll in the study. Walgreens healthcare providers will then perform a single blood draw at one of the company’s clinical trial locations and conduct a telehealth patient follow-up one year after their participation.

“Freenome’s goal is to make early cancer screening more convenient for everyone, and our clinical research should reflect that availability and accessibility,” said Lance Baldo, the company’s chief medical officer. “With community reach, study conduct capabilities, national presence and real-world data generation resources, Walgreens is a natural partner to help deliver on that goal. This collaboration is an important step in advancing early cancer detection.”

The Sanderson Study will enroll approximately 8,000 participants through its clinical study partner network, which includes Walgreens. For more information, visit sanderson.freenome.com.

Clinical trials inclusive of diverse communities are critical to improving health outcomes, especially in cancer research. The collaboration between Walgreens and Freenome aligns with the National Cancer Plan’s goals of detecting cancer early and eliminating inequities. Cancer claims nearly 2,000 lives daily in the United States, but proactive screening tests can help find cancer at an early stage even before symptoms appear. Additionally, Black individuals of all ages have higher mortality rates than any other racial or ethnic groups for many cancer types.

Walgreens and Freenome will also work together on building risk-prediction models and population health software. The aim is to help close existing care gaps and identify people who are eligible and stand to benefit from standard-of-care cancer detection testing. Real-world data collected by Walgreens as part of this collaboration will inform the development of new products and services in Freenome’s multi-cancer detection research, including the company’s blood-based colorectal cancer screening test.

Since launching in June 2022, Walgreens clinical trials business has directly addressed industrywide access, experience and diversity challenges via its three service lines focused on patient recruitment, decentralized clinical trials and real-world evidence. Built on a fully compliant regulatory framework, the central focus of the Walgreens clinical trials experience remains patient choice. Walgreens recently achieved a milestone of conducting outreach to its 1 millionth patient for potential participation in the ongoing trials it supports.



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