Kroger Health, the healthcare division of The Kroger Company, will also start active recruitment, alongside Persephone Biosciences, for a clinical trial to identify microbiome-based biomarkers indicative of colorectal cancer.
Kroger Health and its affiliate, The Little Clinic, will enroll an initial cohort of 55 people with a variety of colorectal cancer risk levels, beginning in Ohio, US. The partners plan to recruit additional participants and to expand the number of locations covered.
The company is better known as a supermarket operator in the US, though the company runs a number of chains that sell a combination of food and drug products, such as Dillons and Ralphs.
“With our team of more than 24,000 healthcare professionals, under the umbrella of America's grocer, we are positioned at the nexus of food and healthcare, which provides us with the unique opportunity to increase accessibility to clinical trial opportunities,” said Colleen Lindholz, Kroger Health president.
Lindholz continued to say that the company envisages working further in the clinical trial environment, providing expanded access to the communities the company serves.
Jim Kirby, CCO of Kroger Health, repeated the same message in a statement. He said: “This is the first of many clinical trial opportunities that will utilize us as an alternative to the traditional clinical trial and research organization model.”
Kroger Health emphasized that 90% of the US population lives within five miles of a pharmacy, and stated that 51% of all Kroger stores are located in ‘socially vulnerable areas’. As a result, the company outlined that it will expand its work in healthcare by creating research opportunities in the same areas.
The company’s decision to broaden its platform in the clinical trial space comes amid a number of the larger pharmacy players in the US market starting similar initiatives.
Last year, Walmart announced that it would launch a service for clinical trial recruitment, also stating that its pharmacies’ reach across the country would enable it to deliver the services to more rural areas. Walmart’s move came as part of a wave of similar such expansions, such as CVS and Medable joining forces to expand trial access, and Walgreens announcing their entry into the trial space.