2022-10-11| Special

Walmart Branches Out into Clinical Trial Recruitment, Competing with CVS and Walgreens

by Reed Slater
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In an effort to leverage its reach as an American retail behemoth, Walmart launched a research institute to focus on diversifying clinical trial populations across the nation. The Walmart Healthcare Research Institute (WHRI) project aims to provide access to minority populations that clinical research trials often underrepresent.

Branching into Research and Development

Walmart’s latest foray into healthcare is only one step in a larger strategy to delve deeper into medical services. Still, the WHRI is an important measure because it marks the company’s first clinical development initiative to rival CVS’s and Walgreens’ clinical trial recruitment services. 

In its announcement, Walmart noted that according to the FDA’s 2020 Drug Trials Snapshots Summary Report, 75% of clinical trial participants were white, 11% Hispanic, 8% black, and 6% Asian. With 90% of Americans living within ten miles of a Walmart, the company hopes its reach can provide communities from diverse backgrounds the opportunity to create more representative clinical trial populations. 

While the company will not initiate clinical trials itself, Walmart teamed up with numerous research partners like CTI Clinical Trial & Consulting Services and Laina Enterprises to help patients access suitable research projects. According to the press release, WHRI already has a referral rate three times the industry benchmark. 

Along with initiating WHRI, Walmart launched its MyHealthJourney app to help patients access partnered clinical trials nearby. The app also keeps track of medical records and insurance information, consolidating the patient’s data in one place. 

Dr. John Wigneswaran, Walmart’s Chief Medical Officer, said,  “We know our customers are interested in participating in healthcare research, but many have not had access until now. We are already making an impact for our customers and for medical research, by raising patient trust and engagement in their care.”

Related Article: CVS Beats Amazon in Signify Bidding War with $8 Billion Acquisition Offer

Reaching Further into Healthcare

Over the last several years, Walmart has expanded its healthcare reach across the nation to provide alternative options for millions of Americans. From generic prescriptions to healthcare recommendation models, the company aims to disrupt traditional healthcare in a big way.

One of Walmart’s most popular programs is the $4 generic medication program which provides nearly one hundred generic medicines at substantially discounted prices. While not all medicines are $4, the program does not require membership or insurance, making it a valuable resource for many around the country. 

In June last year, Walmart partnered with Novo Nordisk to manufacture and distribute private-label insulin products for significantly less than name-brand products. The brand, ReliOn, provides analog insulin vials for as low as $73 and FlexPens for about $85. 

In addition to less expensive medicines, Walmart partnered with Health at Scale in January to provide healthcare recommendations to eligible employees and their families. The project leverages Health at Scale’s AI and machine learning model to guide users to personalized virtual and in-person healthcare providers for their needs. 

WHRI is another step in Walmart’s greater strategy of moving into the healthcare arena. Coupled with its established programs, the company hopes the new research initiative will ultimately provide better and broader access to populations that may not otherwise receive the care they need. Hopefully, the project will accomplish the goal of enrolling more diverse populations in clinical trials with research partners around America.

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