Boehringer and Walgreens Partner to Improve Diversity in Clinical Trials

In this partnership, Boehringer Ingelheim will utilise specific US-based pharmacy store chain Walgreens sites for clinical trials focusing on individuals with obesity, overweight, and type 2 diabetes. The goal is to remove obstacles, enhance accessibility, and promote fair health representation in clinical studies, with a particular focus on Black and Hispanic adults who have a higher prevalence of obesity in the U.S. and have often been overlooked in such research endeavours.

Walgreens and Boehringer Ingelheim unveiled a new strategic partnership on Thursday, focused on enhancing recruitment efforts and fostering greater accessibility, inclusivity, and equity in clinical trials. Through this collaboration, individuals can explore and potentially join a significant Phase III clinical trial right within the convenient and familiar setting of Walgreens pharmacies.

Since venturing into the clinical trials sector in June 2022, Walgreens has inked more than 35 clinical trial agreements with smaller drugmakers, but Boehringer marks the first major pharmaceutical group to emerge as a client.

Ramita Tandon, Chief Clinical Trials Officer at Walgreens stated:

“Embracing our pharmacy clinical trial centers in this study underscores our joint commitment to community health and innovation. This model not only provides foundational education on clinical research for patients but also empowers individuals, offering them a new pathway to engage in their healthcare through clinical trial participation. It’s a step forward in transforming the landscape of clinical research, helping to make clinical trials more inclusive and accessible.”

Additionally, Boehringer is partnering with EmVenio Research to complement this initiative by introducing mobile research units to extend their reach and provide additional options for participation.

Lennart Jungersten, Senior Vice President, Medicine & Regulatory Affairs at Boehringer Ingelheim U.S. stated:

“Boehringer is proud to embrace this community-centric approach to clinical research with Walgreens and EmVenio. By bringing clinical trials into the heart of local communities, we’re making them more accessible, helping to provide access to diverse populations with pressing health needs to participate in our clinical trials. Boehringer Ingelheim is committed to helping those living with overweight and obesity to transform lives for generations to come.”

Boosting Clinical Trials for Obesity Treatments

It is estimated that over 1 billion people in the world live with obesity, and numbers are continuing to rise, with an estimated 24% of the entire world population affected by 2035. Obesity is included among cardiovascular, renal and metabolic (C-R-M) diseases, and, collectively, these are the leading cause of death worldwide.

In May 2023, Boehringer Ingelheim and  Danish biotech Zealand Pharma initiated three Phase III trials to evaluate survodutide as a treatment for weight loss. Survodutide is a glucagon/GLP-1 receptor dual agonist that activates both the GLP-1 and glucagon receptors, which are critical to controlling metabolic functions. This initiative encompasses SYNCHRONIZE-1 and SYNCHRONIZE-2, which will assess the candidate in overweight and obese individuals, with and without type 2 diabetes, respectively. Additionally, the company is conducting SYNCHRONIZE-CVOT, focusing on overweight and obese patients with cardiovascular disease, chronic kidney disease, or other cardiovascular disease risk factors.

In June 2023, Boehringer Ingelheim released Phase II data demonstrating that survodutide could potentially reduce body weight by approximately 20%. However, at the time of the study, weight loss had not yet reached a plateau, indicating that survodutide might exhibit even greater efficacy with longer follow-up periods.

If approved, following the completion of Phase III clinical trials and potential approval by the regulatory bodies, Bohringer’s obesity therapeutics will compete against existing GLP-1s suck as Novo Nordisk’s Ozempic and Wegovy and Eli Lilly’s Mounjaro.