- Walmart is getting into clinical trials with the launch of the Walmart Healthcare Research Institute, as the retail giant focuses on high-margin businesses in healthcare.
- Walmart said the venture is meant to improve diversity in clinical trials, focusing on interventions and medications that can make an impact in underrepresented communities. That includes older adults, rural residents, women and minority populations, the company said in a release.
- It could also become a valuable stream of revenue for Walmart from drug companies looking for participants for potential trials and studies.
Numerous studies have shown that clinical trials are generally not representative of the population at large, raising concerns that treatments aren’t being tested for efficacy and safety on a wide variety of patient populations.
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. 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.
As part of the research initiative, Walmart’s patient portal — which includes patient’s medical records and insurance information — will give patients access to targeted research opportunities. Walmart is working with a number of study partners, including clinical research organizations, pharmaceutical companies and academic medical centers, the company said.
According to its website, the Walmart Healthcare Research Institute will be part of the Walmart Health & Wellness division, which includes the retail giant’s pharmacy, vision clinics and Walmart Health.
Its initial focus will be on chronic conditions, such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, COVID-19 and asthma, along with additional conditions including HIV, dementia, obesity and rare disease, according to the release.
Earlier this year, pharmacy chain Walgreens announced a similar move to try to improve trial diversity, by combining its patient data and care delivery locations to connect diverse participants with trials. Meanwhile, CVS began offering clinical trials in 2021.