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Novartis and Walgreens to team on clinical trials

Posted on 23 March 2012

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As pressures mount to boost profits and lower costs, drugmakers are, of course, looking for new ways to generate more prescriptions and improve patient adherence. So it is not surprising that Novartis would reach out to Walgreens, which is one of the largest pharmacy chains in the US, to discuss various efforts that might benefit both companies.

Among the topics discussed is a program that Novartis calls ‘Clinical Trials of the Future,’ which the drugmaker would like to establish in Walgreens pharmacies, according to a blog that Novartis ceo Joe Jimenez wrote to employees this week. The idea is for the chain, which has more than 7,700 US pharmacies, to make it easier for trial participants to remain in clinical studies.

“This approach would enable clinical trial patients to visit their local Walgreens for routine checks of some vital signs like blood pressure, reducing the need to travel to testing centers that may be far away, potentially speeding clinical timelines and reducing costs,” Jimenez explains. At the same time, another prescription may be filled and other items purchased. A win-win, as they say.

Such alliances may not be common, but one can imagine more will emerge, especially since the pharmacy is the point of customer contact where certain messages may be delivered more easily than through the Internet, for instance, given the reluctance of the pharmaceutical industry to fully exploit its potential. “Right now, the type of alliance we have with Walgreens is rare in our industry,” Jimenez adds. “I believe we should be pursuing these collaborations around the world with key customers.”

Novartis and Walgreens, by the way, are also working on a couple of other programs. One involves ‘transitioning’ some patients who take cardiovascular meds from 30-day prescriptions to 90-day prescriptions. Jimenez describes this as a way to improve adherence, although this also rings the register. The chain will also become a “key location” for administering Novartis flu vaccines.

 

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