A New Twist: Walmart Steps into Clinical Trials

By Lawrence Jones, Ph.D.

Walmart (October 11, 2022) announces the Walmart Healthcare Research Institute SM (WHRI) launch. The institute aims to increase community access to healthcare research believed to be higher quality and more equitable. Dr. John Wigneswaran, Walmart’s Chief Medical Officer, expresses that Walmart is aware that customers are interested in participating in healthcare research. The aim is to also provide access to medical research by raising patient trust and engagement in their care.

Pifer (October 12, 2022) reports that the Company Walmart aims to improve diversity in clinical trials. The Company expresses that focusing on interventions and medications may help to make an impact in underrepresented communities. In addition, this newfound venture may become a valuable revenue stream for Walmart. Pifer adds that “according to Food and Drug Administration data, in 2020, 75% of trial participants were White, 11% were Hispanic, 8% were Black, and 6% were Asian.”

Also (Pifer,2022) adds that the FDA has said that improving diversity in clinical trials is a priority for the agency “since 20% of drugs respond differently across ethnic groups.” Unfortunately, many clinical trials generally do not represent the population at large. Diversity is essential to understand how efficiently new drugs work in various groups of people. The Walmart Healthcare Research Institute will be part of Walmart Health & Wellness. Its initial focus will be on chronic conditions, such as diabetes.

Walmart Health & Wellness won’t be running actual trials. Still, they will primarily help identify patients who may benefit from clinical trials based on their chronic conditions. DeFeudis (October 11, 2022) mentions that the Chief Medical Officer, Dr. John Wigneswaran, says, “Four thousand of our 5,000 locations are in underserved areas.” Walmart Healthcare Research Institute has several partners, including CTI Clinical Trial & Consulting Services and Laina Enterprises. This Company develops management systems for decentralized trials.

Walmart hopes to accomplish education and awareness around chronic conditions and treatments. Walmart launched a digital tool MyHealthJourneySM that lets patients take control of their data through easy access to their eligible medical records online in one place. With MyHealthJourneySM, patients receive reminders for care services and research opportunities to help them keep their health on track. The Narrative Matters!

References:

DeFeudis, N. (October 11, 2022)(Walmart buys into pharma research, following in footsteps of CVS and Walgreens – Endpoints News (endpts.com)

Filipek, D. (October 17, 2022). Healthcare News of Note: The Walmart Healthcare Research Institute could bring more diversity to medical research. Healthcare News of Note: The Walmart Healthcare Research Institute could bring more diversity to medical research (hfma.org)

Pifer, R. (October 12, 2022). Walmart steps into clinical trials, joining rivals Walgreens, CVS. Walmart steps into clinical trials, joining rivals Walgreens, CVS | Healthcare Dive

Walmart. (October 11, 2022). Walmart's Healthcare Research Institute Launches With Mission To Improve Care for Underserved Communities Through Research. Walmart's Healthcare Research Institute Launches With Mission To Improve Care for Underserved Communities Through Research

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