Walgreens and Freenome Establish Partnership to Increase Diversity in Research for the Early Detection of Cancer
DEERFIELD, Ill. & SAN FRANCISCO, June 15, 2023 — Walgreens and Freenome today announced a multi-year relationship to advance clinical studies of Freenome’s blood-based tests for the early detection of cancer. Walgreens will combine its national footprint, patient insights, compliant recruitment technology and local infrastructure to engage diverse patient populations in Freenome’s multi-cancer research program.
“At Walgreens, our aim is to help every community we serve see clinical research as a viable care option,” said Ramita Tandon, chief clinical trials officer, Walgreens. “Through our nationwide presence and trusted pharmacists, we can reach and engage previously underserved patient populations for clinical trials. Supporting the identification of cancers when they are most treatable is one more way we are helping to improve health outcomes of our communities and patients while advancing research in oncology.”
Working together with technology provider Curebase, Walgreens will initially recruit patients across diverse populations for Freenome’s Sanderson Study, which aims to evaluate blood-based screening tests for the early detection of multiple cancers. Using Curebase’s platform, Walgreens will deliver targeted outreach to potentially eligible patients and caregivers of all backgrounds via text, email or in-person consultation at the pharmacy. After completing a pre-screen, eligible patients are invited to enroll in the study. Walgreens healthcare providers will then perform a single blood draw at one of the company’s clinical trial locations and conduct a telehealth patient follow-up one year after their participation.
“Freenome’s goal is to make early cancer screening more convenient for everyone, and our clinical research should reflect that availability and accessibility. With community reach, study conduct capabilities, national presence and real-world data generation resources, Walgreens is a natural partner to help deliver on that goal,” said Lance Baldo, chief medical officer, Freenome. “This partnership is an important step in advancing early cancer detection.”
Clinical trials inclusive of diverse communities are critical to improving health outcomes, especially in cancer research. The collaboration between Walgreens and Freenome aligns with the National Cancer Plan’s goals of detecting cancer early and eliminating inequities. Cancer claims nearly 2,000 lives daily in the United States, but proactive screening tests can help find cancer at an early stage even before symptoms appear1. Additionally, Black individuals of all ages have higher mortality rates than any other racial or ethnic groups for many cancer types2.
Walgreens and Freenome will also work together on building risk-prediction models and population health software. The aim is to help close existing care gaps and identify people who are eligible and stand to benefit from standard-of-care cancer detection testing. Real-world-data collected by Walgreens as part of this collaboration will inform the development of new products and services in Freenome’s multi-cancer detection research, including Freenome’s blood-based colorectal cancer screening test.
Since launching in 2022, Walgreens clinical trials business has directly addressed industrywide access, experience and diversity challenges via its three service lines focused on patient recruitment, decentralized clinical trials and real-world evidence. Built on a fully compliant regulatory framework, the central focus of the Walgreens clinical trials experience remains patient choice. Walgreens recently achieved a milestone of conducting outreach to its 1 millionth patient for potential participation in the ongoing trials it supports.
The Sanderson Study will enroll approximately 8,000 participants through its clinical study partner network, including Walgreens. For more information, visit sanderson.freenome.com.
Walgreens (www.walgreens.com) is included in the U.S. Retail Pharmacy and U.S. Healthcare segments of Walgreens Boots Alliance, Inc. (Nasdaq: WBA), an integrated healthcare, pharmacy and retail leader with a 170-year heritage of caring for communities. WBA’s purpose is to create more joyful lives through better health. Operating nearly 9,000 retail locations across America, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, Walgreens is proud to be a neighborhood health destination serving nearly 10 million customers each day. Walgreens pharmacists play a critical role in the U.S. healthcare system by providing a wide range of pharmacy and healthcare services, including those that drive equitable access to care for the nation’s medically underserved populations. To best meet the needs of customers and patients, Walgreens offers a true omnichannel experience, with fully integrated physical and digital platforms supported by the latest technology to deliver high-quality products and services in communities nationwide.
Freenome is a biotechnology company with a comprehensive multiomics platform for the early detection of cancer using a standard blood draw. The company combines its deep expertise in molecular biology with advanced computational biology and machine learning to detect disease-associated patterns among billions of circulating cell-free biomarkers. Freenome is headquartered in South San Francisco, California.
- National Cancer Institute: Cancer Screening Overview (PDQ®)–Patient Version. Source: https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/screening/patient-screening-overview-pdq
- National Cancer Institute: Cancer Disparities. Source: https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/understanding/disparities