Delays to clinical trials completion are often caused by slow patient recruitment and inefficient research material supply to sites. Clinical Trials Insight talks to Joaquín Campbell, head of clinical trial support for Alcura, about how the healthcare organisation (part of Walgreens Boots Alliance) is making strides toward improved drug accessibility on a global scale and delivering other solutions for enhancing clinical trial efficiencies.

Could you please describe Alcura?

Joaquín Campbell: Alcura was founded several years ago in the UK and has rapidly developed into a European-wide entity with global reach. Behind Alcura are over 40 years of experience in patient care, established under different businesses (such as Locapharm in France), which have since become incorporated into the brand.

We’re a patient-centric healthcare company, offering a range of different services in countries inside and outside of Europe. We focus on medicine support activities, such as nurse-led homecare and the integrated provision of clinical trial support, with comprehensive logistics and storage services, including distribution of clinical trial medication and other supplies to worldwide sites.

How does Alcura keep comparator drug prices low for its clients?

When it comes to comparator sourcing, a key factor for our customers is that the requested products are supplied directly from the manufacturer, avoiding intermediaries and unnecessary "mark-ups", delays or loss of traceability. This is something that Alcura can provide, given its extraordinary relationship with pharmaceutical companies as a global distributor for major manufacturers. By dealing directly with Alcura, the cost saving for the sponsor can be very significant.

In what ways does your multinational presence impact comparator sourcing?

We’re physically present in most countries in the EU and are affiliated to distributors in most continents, so we are able to source a local comparator drug when it is required to be local. We can do this in many countries worldwide. And this is not easy unless you have a local physical presence, or there is an existing relationship with the pharmaceutical companies in the territory, or both, which is often the case for Alcura.

What advantages are there with regard to traceability of products that come from such a direct procurement process?

Our supply sources for comparator products are the manufacturing companies, which are requested to provide us with the necessary certificates to ensure its origin.

The chain of custody is maintained throughout the entire process, until the supply is delivered to our customer. Alcura incorporates the expertise of its drug sourcing, storage and distribution arms to offer an integrated quality-driven service to its customers. By doing this, full traceability has become possible for our clients.

We are capable of storing and relabelling (secondary handling) or primary handling, and can ship products directly from our central hubs, or any of our hubs in Europe, to any destination in the world.

Does owning pharmacy networks such as Walgreens in the US and Boots in the UK help your patient recruitment service?

Patient recruitment is traditionally one of the most significant challenges that COOs from pharmaceutical companies face, and one of the elements that can significantly delay – or even compromise – getting a product to market. Alcura is exceptional in that our group business has vertically integrated retail chains with Walgreens in the US, Boots in the UK and Alphega, a network of over 6,500 independently owned pharmacies throughout Europe. With this model, we can operate services related to identification of potential volunteer subjects and subsequent referral to the study sites.

How does Alcura’s relationship with patients extend beyond the pharmacy floor?

Nurse-led homecare treatment is a sector that has grown rapidly across the countries in which Alcura operates. We believe that government agencies and other organisations are demanding evidence of the benefits of homecare services, such as home medicine administration in specific pathologies or conditions. The pharmaceutical industry is responding to this by including extended services for homecare and home treatment into their clinical trials, and Alcura is ideally placed to accommodate this.

What are Alcura’s plans for the future?

Our integration with Walgreens in the US and worldwide partnerships is giving way to the creation of a true global clinical trial logistics company. With Alcura, our clients will no longer need to rely on third parties to get full global coverage.